For my class “Always On, Always Connected,” we were asked to respond to the PBS video, “Are Cell Phones Replacing Reality?”
I mentioned briefly in class last week that I happen to work with some teenagers, and that my observance of their near-incessant cell phone use was one (of many) factors that contributed to my desire to take the class. Well, after watching the PBS video “Are Cell Phones Replacing Reality?”, I decided to return to my initial inspiration. So I asked the young people I work with to elaborate on their opinions of the role that cell phones play in their lives.
Never think that you know how people will respond to something. It turns out that in the three months that have passed since the last time we talked about the topic, they had all independently developed violently distasteful feelings towards their cell phones. All of them felt that cell phones were a necessary inconvenience, and thus they were more annoyed with their phones than anything else. In fact, one of them had, as of two weeks ago, “accidentally” broken his phone so as to be free from it.
Interestingly enough, the thing that they seemed to dislike the most about cell phones wasn’t their ubiquity, or the five million trillion functions that they serve, or the state of constant half-presence that they seem to encourage. What they rebelled against was the very idea of being plugged in all the time. They were against the tedium of constantly being expected to answer phone calls and text messages.
The story ends happily–most of them were able to overcome their consternation once I introduced them to the wonders of Airplane Mode. But I found it very telling that for them, the worst part of having a cell phone was the very feature that is inherent to all cell phones.