By Nathan Frank
We are all impacted by the problem of the cell phone. Some would go so far as calling it an epidemic. That is a strong word but perhaps it’s accurate.
I remember the days when I would nervously use my parents rotary phone. I would dial a nine and it would take 1.9 seconds to go all the way back around so that I could dial the next number, before I called Charlene. She was the first girl I ever asked out and not the last. She said no and I knew she would. I guess I was a sucker for punishment.
Or, I remember when I was a teenager, I would have to get off the “blasted internet,” so that my dad could use the phone. I would then try to end my romantic rendezvous I was having on MSN with girls from Vancouver to Hanley, but never quick enough for my dad.
I don’t tell these stories of my upbringing solely out of nostalgia — although they are obviously nostalgic. I tell them because it shows how much the world has changed in 10 and 15 years.
My question is how the technological world we live in today affects our psychological state. I am guilty and attached to my cell phone like many of us are and I admit there are advantages. It’s neat that if I want to know the names of Bob Marley’s children I can find the answer within seconds or if I want to know how to make pancakes all I have to do is Google it. Heck, I don’t even need to call my mom anymore.
That’s not true; she still gets a ring on a regular basis, because she is a wonderful person.
The cellphone has its advantages. But, ultimately, it’s creating a strange, detached environment. This attachment to our cell phones, I-pads, twitter is filling our time and our attention, but it’s distracting us from a big part of why we use these things — the people we are trying to connect with.
It’s fun — don’t get me wrong — but so are most addictions. But that isn’t an acceptable excuse to continue a habit that has a harmful effect on your social relations and your mental health.
I shamefully look at it to fill my empty moments, to break the awkward silence with a stranger I don’t want to talk to, or I check my phone to know what time it is, even though I should already know, seeing as I checked two minutes ago.
Yes, the smart phone is a crutch and an addiction sometimes. Even though it’s nothing more than a cool object. It doesn’t compare to you the reader of this article. You are more interesting than the factoid I can find on Google, or even the Youtube video of Mr. Rogers singing, “You can build ideas in the garden of your mind.”
If you haven’t watched it, Youtube it. It will change your life. Not really, but it will make you chuckle.
No, you are much more interesting. Because you are all so different. Think about the most important people in your life. If you are fortunate, you, like me, will agree, that these people in your life are fascinating and complex and more valuable than any cell phone.
Maybe it’s time to go back to the rotary phone, or at least to put down your cell phone and invest in the people around us.