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Cell Phone Abuse

Entry 345, on 2006-06-08 at 16:39:57 (Rating 1, News)

A subject I heard being discussed this morning was how teenagers are hooked on using their cell phones, and how problematic it has become. Well, is that really true? Certainly many people do use their cell phones a lot. I take mine everywhere and rarely turn it off. I take calls anywhere: while driving, in remote locations, practically any time of the day or night. Some people find this annoying, but I say it saves me a lot of time and gives me more freedom, not less.

The point is that, to evaluate the usefulness of cell phones, you can't compare them with not having anything, you must compare it with what the alternative would be. I need to stay in touch with my clients because I do program development and computer support, and many problems need to be fixed quickly. I give everyone my cell phone number so they can contact me, and occasionally I get calls at awkward times, but what is the alternative?

I could use a land line with an answering system, but this tends to result in endless calls back and forward trying to contact the person. I could operate on fixed hours and stay in my office, but this would decrease my freedom during those hours, and it also makes me less reactive to my clients' requirements.

And I don't see any problem with teenagers who stay in touch with their friends using txt messaging. Communications with friends has always been important, and the fact that 99% of the messages are fatuous nonsense isn't the point. Its the ability to have easy communications which is important.

Another issue being discussed recently is cell phone bullying, but what's the big deal there? When I was at school bullying was everywhere, and we didn't have cell phones. The medium should not be blamed for its misuse. Technology for blocking calls and making phones more secure would help a lot there.

So I think that, on balance, the cell phone is a liberating technology, not a restricting one. Like most technologies which people object to, I think they miss the point that a technology needs to be compared with the alternatives to that technology, not to nothing at all.

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