I am trying to think back to when I first got a cell phone. I believe it was as early as grade seven and was what at the time they called a construction worker cell phone. I think it was a panasonic phone – do they even make cell phones now? Basically I could throw that phone around and nothing would happen to it. My parents got it for me because I was involved in various activities and it was a good way to stay in touch, at least that is why I remember getting it. At the time none of my friends had cell phones and it took way too long to text so I only called my parents from the phone. I had my parents work numbers, the house, and maybe my brothers number stored. To be honest I cannot remember if my brother (older brother) had a cell phone as well.
Over the years phones became a lot more popular. I remember traveling to Japan in grade ten and my host sister telling me that not having a phone meant that you were not cool. They even gave me a disconnected phone to carry around just so they did not look uncool when they were around me. It was odd. It is odd. Then when I left home to go to University my cell phone became a part of me. At first it was to stay in touch with my parents. Yes, I’ll admit I had a hard time leaving home at the tender age of seventeen. But a couple months in my phone was less about my parents contacting me and me being able to connect with my friends. This has not changed since 2004 but has become even more of an addiction.
My travels to Africa magnified my attachment to my phone. It was my way of staying connected to my friends and family in Canada. But it was also a good way for me to avoid situations I perhaps did not want to partake in. I could become absorbed in a conversation beyond my geographical context and use it as an excuse that I only get to speak to that person once in a while because of the time change. No one really knew I was only talking to one or two friends in Canada and then once in a while updated my parents and brother. I thought things would change when I returned home to Canada but my addiction amplified in a new way. I was expected to have my cell phone with me at all times just in case I got a call or text from work. I rarely got called in the evenings or on weekends but when it happened I needed to be ready to respond. It simply took over my life as I was constantly watching my phone and emails, even when I was in class.
Truthfully, my addiction to my cell phone became disrespectful to others.
Nearly half a year after leaving my job, I am starting to detach. It is not easy especially as I have joined various social media platforms.
The thing for me is that we are now living in a society where people expect instant responses. People require immediate gratification and acknowledgment of your connection with them. Not to mention, I think, we have become accustomed to knowing what our friends and family are doing at all times and we gain this knowledge from Facebook posts, instagram pictures, blog posts, minute to minute twitter updates, or any of the other forms of social media out there.
But have you stopped to think about what it means to those your a physically sharing space with when you are constantly on your phone? In many ways I wonder if you are saying you are not really present, do not care for the others company, that the relationship is not valuable enough to ignore others for a few minutes, or if you simply feel a sense of connection when you are on your phone. Whatever your reason, think about why you are on your phone and what it is telling others.