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Cell phones promote antisocial behavior

Published: Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Updated: Tuesday, October 6, 2009 08:10

I just got a new cell phone last week after having my old one for four years. The employees at the cell phone store laughed at my phone because it was so old. Poor phone.

Anyway, my new phone does so much more than my old phone: it can go on the Internet, download music, text with a QWERTY keypad, email and more! So instead of talking to people during my break at work, I check my email. Since getting my new phone, I now see why most people whip out their phones right before and right after class. Why talk to strangers when you can go on the Internet and check Facebook for information about the people you actually care about?

Researchers in the United States, Finland, Japan, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom are coming to some startling conclusions in regards to "connecting with others" via mobile phones. If we think about it, cell phones were invented to increase the convenience of reaching others. However, when everyone is on their cell phones talking to people far away, this contradicts the basic idea of connecting with others.

Instead of making new acquaintances and having a conversation with a real person in the same room, bus or hallway, people are isolating themselves from immediate society. It's very difficult to make a new friend when that potential friend is already having a conversation on a cell phone every time you see him or her.

The next time you're waiting to get in your next class, take your eyes off your phone for 10 seconds and take a look around: how many people are busy texting away? How many people are standing right next to someone but are so absorbed in their own mobile conversations that they don't notice the other person? Do they actually look up when people start herding into the classroom or do they just shuffle along, eyes glued to the tiny screen? It's kind of sad, really.

A while ago on the MyUNIverse page there was a poll about pretending to answer the phone to avoid someone. I've done it a few times (I think actually twice) but there was a larger amount of people who said they "frequently" answer fake calls than I thought there would be. It's one thing if you have a really good reason for avoiding them (as in, you really have to go to the bathroom or you owe them money and you don't have it with you but you're on your way to get it), but most avoiders simply don't want to take the effort to say "hi" and ask how the avoidee is. So, again, cell phones provide a nice excuse to avoid socializing (ironically).

On the other hand, cell phones are a very handy way of reaching someone. It sure is quicker than a letter, telegram or even an email (unless that email is sent to the phone, then it is just as fast), and cell phones have saved plenty of lives in emergency situations. So is the cost of social isolation worth the convenience that comes with it? I don't know. I actually enjoy being in a valley with no reception once in a while. Then I can enjoy the person's company I am with, instead of talking to someone miles away.


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