Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cell Phones = Increased Incivility

I'm convinced that cell phones have contributed to increased incivility. These devices have only been around 25 years, but in that span of time they have infiltrated society, not always for the good.

Earlier today at a restaurant I noticed two incidents of cell phone incivility.

First, two gentlemen were in a booth having lunch. A cell phone rang and one of them answered it. He stayed on the call for several minutes, while his companion sat there in silence -- the person on the phone apparently taking precedence over the person sitting right in front of him.

Second, I noticed a mother and child (he looked about 12) in another booth. The mother spent several minutes on the phone, while her son sat in front of her, ignored.

Why do we behave this way? Can't we turn these things off? Doesn't it make moral sense that the person one is with, face to face -- with the exception of emergencies -- has precedence over a cell phone call?

I grant that there are instances when taking a cell phone call may be necessary, but neither of the incidents I witnessed today appeared urgent in the least -- they sounded more like unhurried chatting.

Cell phones have become extensions of our very selves. With them we cut ourselves off from others, diminish meaningful, face-to-face human interaction, escape the reality that surrounds us, and in general cause us to behave rudely without our even knowing it.

Do you carry a cell phone around? Try a cell phone fast for a week. Leave it at home.


Foggy Blogger said...

Funny how the H.S. works... I just attended a talk by Os Guinness and he pointed out that as Christians we are doing a terrible job at looking at technology and the impact it has on our communities and theology. He pointed to the watch and how it shaped western perception of time. Look at how the car has changed the way we do church. I could go on...

As for the phone fast, i'd love to do it, but the only phone i own is my cell phone. I haven't had a land line for several years... ;)

Robert Velarde said...

Thanks for the comment. Anticipating that some people just have a cell phone and not a land line, I suggest you try the fast anyway and leave the cell phone at home. You'll feel lost without it for a few days, but this will pass.

Incidentally, I don't carry a cell phone and rarely wear a wristwatch. Yet I can still figure out what time it is if I need to (clocks are everywhere) and also get to a phone easily if needed.