Cannot be reached: A quip on cellphones

Illustration by Marinel Mamac

Gone are the days where pigeons carry along letters of love. Humanity has come a long way to what is now an era of technological savvy. Speed rules the twenty first century and so all aspects of our existence evolve upon this change. This is the world of motion, as some may call it, and hardly do we realize that special moments have passed us by. The emergence of mobile phones was humbly intended to connect people for distant calls, though it has developed to what we have now a device that is a capable of functioning as a fully operational personal computer with a single touch. This is indeed the age of Smart Phones – shaping humanity through a transcended nature never witnessed in history.

Yet notifications from Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, WhatsApp, Skype, and so forth have murdered human interaction. Since the creation of portable social media applications in smart phones, it is but normal to see a family outing where generation Y is so ingrained with their LCD screens that the outside world with its meaningful moments seem secondary. It has transformed us into people who value virtual environment more than what the real life experience has to offer.

It is but a global phenomenon to notice the youth scrolling their newsfeed instead of enjoying the tropical beaches, the snowy mountains and all other natural heavens around them. Oddly enough, several of these youth have actually travelled to distant places to witness a glimpse of these secret heavens, only to be disturbed by a notification from one of these social media. That loss of focus to the tangible world has raised concern with the researchers as well. In a recent experiment at Stanford University, researchers gave various cognitive tests to 49 people who engage in a lot of media multitasking and 52 volunteers who are not frequent multi-taskers. The heavy multi-taskers performed poorly on all the tests. They were more easily distracted, had less control over their attention, and were much less able to segregate important information from trivia. This study could verify why a lot of us have a tendency to get information overload and mental juggling from one app to the other.

Due to the handheld nature of smart phones, an orderly lifestyle somehow deteriorates, especially when the employee is urged to reply to emails from authority figures during break times, holidays, and vacations. It is possible that due to the availability of the 3G internet connection of these phones, it is but expected that the receiver will be notified of the email. This is indeed a stressful lifestyle, since the intention behind break times and vacations is to actually break away from obligated work requirements and to attend to one’s personal needs. Whether the employee is the one engaged in work outside of the office or vice versa, this availability of continuous connection can hinder the individual from having a relaxed, stress free and meditative moment, which is vital for the mental state of workers and students alike. Moreover, it can also impede the productivity in workplace since the individual cannot help but to check the notifications from social media or drift along games as a form of procrastination. Either way, having this limitless accessibility to entertainment is capable of crippling the individual’s road to career success and personal development.

Nevertheless, the quality of life with loved ones may also dramatically decline. Several couples have actually split away due to suspicions from a single like, poke, comment or chat. Negative emotions and the misinterpretation of intention via social media have actually skyrocketed unnecessary quarrels in relationships of whatever form, let alone the availability of these in smart phones. In a survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), researchers found that Facebook was mentioned in 1 out of every 5 divorces in the United States.  The speed of such an unfortunate event is faster than ever before in history.

We now ask whether the modern day citizen has any other choice. In a world where the 9 to 5 office hours are not always respected given the ease of a technology, communication slowly turns into downright intrusion. Although studies may claim that those who frequently multitask will perform poorly when compared those who do not, the tide may be turning in their favor. Owning and using a phone may not be a choice but a requirement in the near future. With everything being digitalized, the phone or any other gadget acts as your sixth sense. This extra sense though may be something we did not need in the past but may already be essential in the future.

The phone was initially invented to connect people, and although it has decided to do much more than that, it still holds true to its original purpose. A person cannot just quit a part of technology. He or she must quit its entirety. Students may wish to delete their Facebook accounts as they deem it as a distraction but they in turn are also destroying a convenient way to get a hold of their classmates. Others may want to do away with the cellphone because they do not want it disrupting their lives but they will soon learn phones are a bridge along with all the different social media. When you burn a bridge you not only stop yourself from crossing but also stop allowing others to get to you.

The question is, “Can I live phoneless?”

It has come to a point wherein the person cannot make this decision on his or her own. It is not a simply internal decision as it affects so many other people. This dependency comes from the new technologies that arrive each year. It starts to seem as if these advancements are making us take two steps forward and one step back as human beings. We are progressing and regressing with technology but at the end of the day, we are learning more than we are forgetting.

Kauthar Usop

By Kauthar Usop

Jose Felipe Montinola

By Jose Felipe Montinola

10 replies on “Cannot be reached: A quip on cellphones”

Leave a Reply