When cell phones rule your world

We have passed the age where the only purpose of a cell phone was to make a phone call. Today, we use smartphones for so many purposes; from watching movies, to sending or receiving e-mails and taking notes, they have become our  portable minicomputers. It’s no wonder that we find ourselves so immersed in them, but eventually we have to stop and ask ourselves, how much is too much? At what point do we cross over from being entertained by our cell phones to becoming inconsiderate of others and unaware of our surroundings?

For an episode of Anderson Cooper’s daytime show, “Anderson Live,” Cooper conducted a poll with Yahoo Shine that asked participants what rude behavior bothers them the most. The results came out that 19 percent were people who spoke too loudly on their cell phones.

“When someone is on a cell phone in a public place, they are hijacking your thoughts—they’re stealing your time and your peace of mind,” Amy Alkon, an advice columnist and author of “I see Rude People,” said on the show.

I just stare when I see people talking incredibly loudly on their cell phone devices. I’m thinking, “you are using the latest phone on the market, you should have pretty decent service and coverage, why are you yelling? Do you not trust your phone to carry your voice over to the other end?”

Another person who believes technology—particularly cell phones—should be used in moderation is Santa Monica College’s media studies professor Vivian Rosenberg.

Rosenberg is not opposed to technology. She believes that it is a great tool, but for some young professionals, it has become an appendage.

So, Rosenberg decided to conduct her own social experiment. She purposefully stood in the way of someone walking while texting to see if the person, entranced by their phone, would notice her.

This semester Rosenberg has tried this three times, and each time she has received the same results. The students bumped into her, never looking up from their precious phones.

Furthermore, the phone-focusers would just walk away without apologizing, as if it were normal to bump into someone by not paying attention to surroundings. Rosenberg has encouraged her students to go out and try her experiment to see if they would get similar results.

As expected, her students who did the experiment came back with comparable results, reporting to her that the people focused on texting seemed not to have peripheral vision.

“We lose a certain amount of human interaction by living our lives on telephones,” Rosenberg said. “People who use their phone wherever, whenever, are inner directed.”

Excessive phone usage has become the new normal. SMC student Marissa Pond believes that people use their phones to avoid certain people, or situations. The rudest encounter she has had with cell phone abusers was when she was out on a date, and the guy she was with started using his phone at the dinner table.

Cell phones are great to have and necessary in today’s high-tech world. I have one and use it all the time. But when it interferes with how we conduct ourselves around people, and when you literally cannot see anything other than the screen, then it is time to put it away.

“This may be a cliché, but it holds some truth, ‘if you stop and smell the roses, you will be amazed at what you find,’” Rosenberg said.

So put those phones down and enjoy what’s around you, and you will be amazed at what you might discover.