September 26, 2006

Let's Talk about Cell Phones.

I just read this article on wired about cell phones (they call them hell phones). I've been thinking a lot about my cell phone lately. I have been trying to turn it off for more and more hours per day. I know that just turning it off doesn't negate all of the problems but I am worried that mine is having a negative impact on my life and the world around me.

Here are just two of the many arguments presented on Wired:

Flexitime

Have you noticed that no one makes firm appointments anymore? Everything is sketchy, provisional, pencilled in. "I'll call you when I get there." "Something's come up; can we reschedule?"

The hell phone may be a boon to the spontaneous, but it's also a license for the slippery, the evasive and the passive aggressive to mess with your head.

Detached

Just as hell phones allow you to avoid committing yourself to a specific time and place, so they allow you to remain detached from other commitments. We switch our phones off in the cinema because without bracketing all other concerns and giving our undivided attention to the drama unfolding on the screen we'd be wasting our time and money.

But what about the drama of our lives? Why is it OK to interrupt that? Is there such a thing as "emotional multitasking"? Maybe that's what you were doing when you struggled to suppress rising irritation as you waited for my hell phone call to end ... I'm sorry about that. And I'll be sorry next time, too.

Specifically, with regards to the "flexitime" issue, this, in combination with email, makes it really hard for groups that are mixed-class to meet. Over-technology dependant people like myself are happy comfortable with meetings being scheduled or cancelled just hours in advance but then this sometimes leaves people without the technology out of the loop.

Let's talk. What do you think of cell phones? Do you have one? Do you not? Why do/don't you? What do you think about cell phones in general? What do you think about yours?

4 comments:

Trope said...

I think that cell phones really raise the expectation that people will be able to do more, in more places, in less time than they used to. For a specific purpose, like in an company's work group where cell phones are provided, this can be great within reason. But when it bleeds into people's social lives or other work (like volunteer groups or faith communities) the difference betwen have-cell and have-not-cell becomes its own distraction.

I like that my work has provided little text pagers, and I will occasionally give out that number/address to my family for a one-time contact. But then when they try to use it the next week or the next month, I don't respond to their message or else the distractions at work become overwhelming--it's as if the signal gets contaminated. With my personal cell phone, I will often look at a call and not take it if I'm driving or at a volunteer event or a church meeting, and so I've developed the reputation among my friends of being "hard to reach". That used to bother me, but I'm more okay with it now.

calypso said...

1. there used to be a time where there were no cell phones. everyone survived.
2. it's great when employers provide phones or pagers so that you can do your job better
3. It is fun being able to reach people all the time
4. there should be one day a year: No Cell Phones Day where EVERYONE has to turn theirs off and communicate in other ways, live there life a little differently for one day.

calypso said...
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garçon-fille said...

I have a cell phone, but only because my parents make me keep one (so they can neurotically believe that just in case anything happens anywhere, I'll be prepared...) Also so they can easily reach me anytime (not always a good thing). Personally, I think cell phones are useful, but in terms of cost-benefit, I do not think they are worth the amount people pay for them. Long before I was born, my grandparents wasted a lot of money by buying new cars almost every year and trading in 'old' ones that they had barely owned. I think many people fall into this trap with cell phones and calling plans. They feel like they need to keep new phones so they can be trendy enough, or be able to send the best text messages complete with 5 megapixel photos. This is ridiculous.
I also have two good friends who have never had (and probably never will have) cell phones. And they get along just fine. As a general rule, they are also more punctual and less likely to bail than other people I know. Personally, I'm all for a cell phone-free world.