Have you ever heard a cell phone ring and your lips immediately push forward in disapproval at the annoying and obnoxious ring tone? What about having to roll your eyes 360 degrees at someone’s cell phone conversation while thinking TMI? Surely you must have sucked your teeth dry at having your movie experience interrupted by a loud cell phone. Bad cell phone habits are slowly becoming an important mental health issue to say the least (in my opinion) and a major pet peeve to many.
The mobile phone, as we know it today, has been long in the making. It has evolved from a cumbersome machine for the rich to a RAZR size gadget for the masses. Within the last two decades the cell phone industry has made major strides in the development of its product – both in functionality and appearance. When we now speak of the cell phone we refer to one of the most exciting technological advances of our generation: where creativity meets entertainment meets connectivity. Unfortunately, as the product makes significant progress in its development, many of its users have stagnated or regressed into a state of social ineptness.
Most people will confess that they cannot live without their mobile phone.
The busy professional must stay in touch with the office for fear that all hell will break loose in his absence. The protective mom must keep up with her children to ensure that they are alive and well – among other things. The teenager must be reachable to her friends at all times as there is always some breaking news to relate. Let’s not forget the cell phone fanatics – our blackberry addicts - who must have the latest and smartest handset on the market whether or not they can afford or use it. No doubt, we can all defend our love and need of the cell phone. But what can be said of our lack of control and abuse of the same?
How do we control our cell? It is taking responsibility of it use. It is being the boss of your phone and not being controlled by it. It is knowing how and when to use it. Here are a few tips – I call cell control - that break it down further:
- Shhh. Keep your voice down. If there is need to shout in the phone it is a clear indicator that it is a bad time to communicate. The person sitting beside you on the bus or standing in front of you in the bank line has a right to enjoy his environment without it being polluted by your noise.
- TMI. It’s just too much information. No one needs to know, and I dare say even cares, about the fight you had with your ‘better half’ or what you are going to eat for dinner. Refrain from holding personal and inappropriate conversations in public.
- Respect your surroundings. Turn off your phone or place it on ‘vibrate’ mode as the circumstance or place requires. It is very rude to interrupt a church service or meeting with an uncontrolled cell. Many places prohibit the use of the cell phone such as the courthouse, doctor’s office, library and cinema. Know if your cell phone is welcomed or not and then act appropriately.
- Ignore it. Do not use your phone while driving. Let it ring until you are able to stop or park. Many countries have prohibited the use of cell phone while driving — including a number of states in the US — due to the increase in accidents relating to the same. The use of hands-free devices has also been banned in some countries as they have not proven to be safer or less distracting.
- Love the one you’re with. Give priority to the person in front of you (whether it is a friend, store clerk or a waitress taking your order) over the person on the other end of the line. It is a shame how personal communication has taken a back seat in this mobile age and how many relationships and young minds have suffered because of it. There is no excuse to send a text when you can call and to call when you can pay a visit.
- Watch your back. Sexting and mean talk almost always come back to bite you. There is a general rule that you should not say or text anything you would not want repeated or published publicly. What’s done in the dark must come to light.
- Get a life. Some times you just have to shut it off. There are so many missed opportunities to make the world a brighter place as we walk around engrossed in our phones. How easy it is to give a hurried wave to a friend you haven’t seen in ages because you are talking on the phone... or not even see that friend at all as they passed by, because you were too busy sending a text to see them pass by? Then there are those missed steps that end in sprained ankles, bumped toes and bruised knees and those that almost cost a life because you were quite oblivious to your surroundings. What about allowing your phone to keep you up at nights when you should be sleeping?
I dare say your phone is not your life. Go ahead: eat, sleep, play…it is ONLY a cell phone.
Ms. Devra Thomas lives in Antigua, is a spiritual person, a social commentator, an avid writer and a new member to the 365antigua.com editorial team. Keep an eye out for other articles soon to be published in the virtual pages of 365antigua.com.