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Dependency and improper etiquette plague young adult mobile phone use

With the exception of makeup, and perhaps a clothing item or two, the thought of not being able to leave the house without a certain product scares me.

Yet, a few weeks ago, when I accidentally tripped in front of a water drain and dropped a certain item down, I realized that there is something else we can’t get by without: cell phones.

Cell phones were barely born yesterday, yet today we can’t fathom a day without them.  I discovered this during my week-long adventure of living phone-free.

Naturally, to ease my angst, I decided a little retail therapy could help things.  I was astonished at the terror this simple errand induced in my girlfriends.

You’re going on a train?  To Suburban Square?  Without a cell phone?  By yourself?  What, are you clinically insane?  You could die out there!  Facebook message me before and after you leave so that I know you haven’t been killed.  God, I need a Valium, no, make it two!

The obsession and dependency we have on our cell phones inspires a lot of criticism, particularly from older generations.  Teens these days, they can’t even speak to each other anymore.

Look at them, they’re not talking, they’re staring at their cell phones!  What has social interaction degraded itself to?  Pretty soon people won’t even know how to make eye contact, can you imagine?  Thank God we grew up in a more civilized era.

Luckily, the situation is never as dire as our elders would like us to believe.  But we’ll let them carry on their ranting, if only to give them some excitement.

The thing about cell phones is, they’re new.  And every new product goes through a trial-and-error phase of what constitutes proper etiquette.

Take smoking, for instance.  If you’re a smoker now and could go back 50 years, you probably would think you’ve died and gone to heaven.  Going for a bus ride?  Ah, nothing like a Marlboro in the morning to make the commute more bearable.

Watching a movie?  Oh, you don’t mind if I just light one up right next to you, do you?  Out on a shopping spree?  Retail therapy just got so much more satisfying.

But since the glory days of the ’50’s and ’60’s, things have gone downhill for smokers.  Thanks to increased attention given to national health, combined with society’s adaptation and adjustment to a new commercial product, the smoking scene looks a whole lot different today.  Did you just try to light that in here?  You’ll have to take that out to the alleyway; we operate with a higher standard in this restaurant.

Is that a cigarette I see dangling out of your mouth?  Kids, look away, that man clearly has no respect for his fellow human beings.

Did you just throw that cigarette butt on the ground?  I think I’m going to fine you $1,500 dollars, maybe next time that’ll inspire you to reach the garbage can.

Obviously, what once was generally accepted behavior for smokers has gone through some dramatic changes.

But these changes didn’t happen overnight.  We had to feel our way through millions of corroded lungs and dingy ash trays before any real light bulbs went off.

Now, I’m not saying cell phones will go through as severe a change as smoking did.  But I am saying that we are smack in the process of defining proper cell phone etiquette.

Social movements are currently at work to eradicate some of our rudest cell phone faux pas.

Was that a hand I saw just reach for your pocket?  Hand it over young man, you’ll have to retrieve it from the principal’s office at the end of the school day.  Did she really just take a call during the middle of the Consecration?  I won’t be chatting with her after mass today, no need to associate with that sort of behavior.

Did you just ask me for a second date after staring at your phone for the whole time?  Hold on, I’ll have to get back to you on that, I’m too busy texting right now to think about it.

The point is, our grandparents can relax.  Do I think that we could use a little more refinement in our cell phone etiquette?  Absolutely.

Give us a little time, and we’ll be able to get brunch with you, no screen intrusions present.  We may even remember how to make eye contact with you.

Do I think that cell phones are going to result in an apocalyptic destruction of our entire social tradition?

It seems doubtful, but you never know what Apple’s creation of the iPhone 6 could accomplish.  Maybe I should hold off on any bets with Grandma until after the release date passes.

 Mary Finnegan is a junior English major from Washington, N.J. She can be reached at mfinnega@villanova.edu. 

 
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