What Effect Do Cell Phones Have On Behavior?
Cell phones are a passing tone in the symphony of life. New technology is already replacing and recreating the marketplace. I have avoided owning a cell phone out of financial necessity (I have a need for more finances!), but thanks to other people’s budgeting, I can recall with accuracy a number of the more exciting conversations I’ve heard play out as a strangers’ path and mine intertwined—“…that place has horrible customer service,” “so-and-so is a jerk,” “the bail money wasn’t there like Charlene said it would be,” “my sister’s boyfriend’s babysitters’ mamma, remember her?” And on and on. That I will overhear similar stories because of the cell phone has been a given in my adult life. However, with the advent of texting as social phenomena, I can’t find a good free drama anywhere! Not enough people walk around jacking their jaws these days for my taste, and I hope this is not a growing trend away from verbalizing what we feel when we express ourselves.
Until texting became vogue, yackers constantly went about exposing their private business to the world at large. In America, we are endowed with a First Amendment right of Free Speech right to do just that, and I never minded the noise of that Right being exercised. Like most in this day and age, I enjoy being entertained. I am entertained by people. People are always going to be people, until we become robots.
Does that sound too far? Perhaps it is, but there is no denying that cell phones are going to continue their evolution into something new. Sooner than we can imagine, our humanity will be on the line. In the helpful section of a site for shoppers, there is even a non-joking reference to the hope that “maybe someday they will, indeed, be implanted in our ears!” (Wirelessguide.org)
If we allow (or even look forward with anticipation to) such implanting, who knows what might come next? We already use the cell phone to track each other, indicating that we may not be speaking to each other as often of in the typical fashion, but what is all this typing, after all? We are directly communicating- -but with whom?
According to “Neighborhood Crime Watch,” an article written by Bryant University, cell phones help keep crime down by allowing those in the Watch Group to communicate about potential threats and problems in the area. That sounds responsible and sane, but what if that technology was to fall into the wrong hands? Newer technologies will likely lead to even more preventative measures being taken in the crime-fighting arena, and thanks to key stroke tracking, there is no doubt that we are already allowing this monitoring. (John P. Mello Jr.) Are we the wrong hands?
We certainly are holding the balance of our own humanity like water with our fingers. We are not robots yet, but we might want to be, especially when the device is offered at an efficient cost, and would be helpful to our recovering economy. “Cell phones are becoming an integral part of today’s business world.” (Bryant University) This was written a few years ago, but it is as true today as it was then that to be successful you need the best technology available. To afford this, you need a job, or to own a business already. Thankfully, new technology always wins; it always gets cheaper, and always expands to newer markets. As these devices get more complicated and cheaper, more people will use them, in business and in personal life.
How will our future cell phones affect our future behavior? Where we once spoke to someone, we called them, and now we text incessantly. These days, even overhearing conversations is becoming a thing of the past. What will we lose next? We have the freedom in America to cause trouble, to be offensive, to ask the very questions those in power fear most to answer. I think we might want to begin asking the right questions, before asking questions is declared a criminal nuisance, before keystrokes of dissent are traced, tracked, and published to prevent “terror”…and besides, I enjoy knowing my neighbors, knowing about them, if not every detail of their lives. With the economy in shambles and our political processes in full breakdown mode, will we find communication broken down entirely thanks to the technology we use to communicate? That would be ironic.
While the idea that trouble and drama will find man unbidden is no profound thought, I am worried about the loss of not just the face to face contact humans need, but also the atmospheric hullaballoo I had just gotten used to. I miss it. History says it will be easier for us to find trouble (even easier for trouble to find us) the further away we get from the intended use of a product (remember asking for the operator and having to provide an exchange?). Will calling for help when you find yourself in trouble still be easy? That was, after all, the initial purpose, right?
“Neighborhood Crime Watch.” Bryant University. Web. 5 December 2011.
John P. Mello Jr. “Carrier IQ’s Cell Phone Snooping Overstated.” PC World. 5 December 2011.
“Cell Phones and Business.” Wirelessguide.org. Web. 5 December 2011.