Today’s prompt was: Describe your relationship with your phone. Is it your lifeline, a buzzing nuisance, or something in between?
My cell phone is not my lifeline, and sometimes it is a “buzzing nuisance”, but for the most part it is somewhere in between. Each time there is a major shift in our means of communication due to a new invention, we get hooked and say, “What did we do before there were —-?”
I try not to think like that about my cell phone, but it has really become a necessity in our modern world. I first got a cell phone in 2001 when my car died under a bridge and I panicked because I didn’t know how to find a phone. So my first cell phone – one of those big clunky ones! – was a convenience for emergencies only. This is particularly important for women if they find themselves stranded somewhere and need to call someone right away.
I am currently a substitute teacher, and schools requesting me call me to see if I’m available. They need an immediate reply so they can inform sub center. It’s also a convenient way to communicate with the parents of the kids I tutor, set up job interviews, etc. My phone also is useful as a reminder of appointments that I have entered on my electronic calendar.
I admit that I really love texting. It allows me to send someone a quick message without being intrusive. I can be sitting in a public place and instead of annoying someone nearby who has to listen to my end of a phone conversation, I can quietly text a message and wait for a subtle ringtone to inform me of a reply. It also saves me from awkward phone conversations – I admit, I have a bit of “phone phobia”! I no longer have to go through the pleasantries of a phone call to send a quick request to a friend to go exercise with me, for example.
When I find myself alone without anything to read, I can read email or go to Facebook on my phone. So yes, it’s a source of portable entertainment. It does solve the irritating problem of being somewhere with no reading material to pass the time, one of my pet peeves! It gives me a chance to read and delete email so I don’t have to do that later on my computer. It also is a quick
portable camera in situations when I haven’t planned to take pictures so I don’t have my regular camera with me. And it is fun to take pictures of restaurant meals or someone I’m with and post them immediately on Facebook!
I don’t, however, like for it to be a substitute for communication or relating to someone I’m with at the time. I find it offensive when I am taking a walk with a friend and she gets a call and feels compelled to answer it immediately and then carry on a conversation with her son or whoever. This also happens to me sometimes when I am at a therapy appointment, with whoever is calling my therapist taking up some of the 45 minutes of my session.
If my phone rings while I’m at work, I don’t answer it. The students in the class sometimes will react or make a comment, but I tell them to just ignore it. I could put it on silent during work hours but the problem with that is that I have a notoriously bad memory and will probably forget to un-silence it after school, and then possibly miss an important call later. I do, however, turn my phone off when I’m at the movies, the theatre, or the opera. I do not believe in becoming so dependent on instant communication that I feel the need to immediately turn it on during intermission. When I’m at a theatre, it’s my time to relax and enjoy myself, not answer phone calls!
I hope I can always maintain a balance between a totally dependent relationship and one that is merely a convenience. My cell phone has important functions in my life, especially keeping me on track with appointments and getting calls related to my job. The rest is not strictly necessary, yet I enjoy catching up with people via email, text, or Facebook, and being able to take an occasional picture instead of having to miss that moment.
Yet I have to say that I get really angry with myself if I forget to charge it overnight, because then I have to go to work without a convenient way of communicating with my family or with employers or clients. I recently found myself with a “dead” phone on my way to an appointment and no phone charger in the car, so I actually stopped at a T Mobile store I came across and went in and bought a charger!
So, just as the computer has become a necessity of my life, so has my cell phone. I just hope it doesn’t encourage me to avoid face-to-face interaction with my family and friends. That would be very sad!