Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Heading On Down

"Mom, why don't we have a cell phone?" asked Michael with concern.  "Because you don't need one," replied his mother. 

"Mom, will we ever have one?" asks Michael, who is now getting frustrated. "Yeah, when you go off to college," replied his mother who really doesn't want to talk about it.

Michael then asks, "What about when we go to work?"  "You mean when you go to work while you are in high school?" asks his mother.

"Yeah, will we have one then?" .............. "I don't know, we'll see."

This conversation has come up more than once in my house.  It's a decision I'll be sticking to for as long as I can.  A short time ago I was listening to NPR's discussion on Nomophobia.

Nomophobia (no-mobile-phobia) is the fear of being without your cell phone and it is on the rise.  A past study showed 53% of all people suffer from this.  The percentage is even larger for those from 18-24 years of age, reaching 77% and dipping back down to 66% for those people  aged 25-34.

For me, I could care less whether I have my cell phone on me or not.  I was raised in a time if your car broke down, you walked to the nearest gas station or house for help.  For me, nothing is that important where I have to get a hold of a friend prior to reaching my home, where I can use my land line, sit in a comfy chair and have a nice chat. I find if someone has to get a hold of me, and their message is that important, they can leave it on my message machine at my home and I'll get back to them at my earliest convenience.  

While in Cleveland last week, I had an opportunity to observe many people while my friend was off taking care of personal business.  I sat in a very large lobby just observing people for hours.  What I found was I no longer saw peoples faces.  What I observed was how most people have their head down, constantly, totally missing what is going on around them.  They are busy texting, checking e-mails or playing games, all I see are the tops of their heads.  Are people becoming subservient to their phones, I think maybe they are.  I find this all quite disturbing.  

People are missing out on life, it's passing before their very eyes, and all they can focus on is their phones.  What can be so important you can't leave the phone in your purse or your pocket for a few hours, turned off, without touching it.  Sunday drives with my parents taught me an awful lot.  What it taught me was to look around and see things I wouldn't normally see in my back yard, neighborhood or town.  On Wednesday evenings, my father would take my mother to the grocery store and he and I would sit in the car watching people.  If it had rained, we'd place bets as to who would walk around a rain puddle and who would slosh right through it.  We'd see who would return the cart to the store and who would leave their cart in some discourteous manner, in the parking lot, only for the next patron to deal with their undiplomatic ways.  We'd see if the husband would get out of the car to help his wife load the groceries into the trunk.  My dad taught me to be a good "people watcher" and to obverse your surroundings, which I still do to this day.

Back in the early 90's my niece came to live with us for a month in the summer.  I remember, very well, taking her to Maine with us for our annual sojourn.  The Colony Hotel has a very large wrap around porch where people gather throughout the day.  Alysia and I sat in the afternoon shade people watching.  Each time someone new would enter into the scene, we'd ask each other, "Okay, what does that person do for a living?" We had all kinds of stories to tell each other.  You really have to study someone when asked that question.  You have to look at the clothes, their facial expressions, read their body language and use your imagination.  But what I truly remember about that time was the interaction we shared with each other and the laughs we had.  Something most people no longer engage in when they have a cell phone in their hand.

In my opinion, when you have a phone, you also need to know (and use) proper etiquette.  While riding the shuttle bus back to the hotel, there was a man in the front seat with papers spread out doing business.  He was on his phone, talking loudly, making business appointments.  Since when do I have to be part of his plans.  I find some people have no consideration for the people around them.  I was looking around on the bus for the sign saying, NO CELL phone use aboard this bus. It's only a matter of time cell phones will be banned from public places just like cigarette smoking.  Then what will the nomophobic do?

When riding the shuttles at the Cleveland Clinic, people are tired, stressed, nervous and just plain worn out after a busy day of testing and doctors appointments and I'm sure they are looking for a peaceful ride back to their hotel.  One women entered the bus with her friend and the minute she sat down she started texting her daughter while her friend was talking to her.  Her friend asked her if it wouldn't be better to phone her later in the hotel and her reply, "I'd rather text her at work." Again, this women did not take into consideration other peoples feelings.  Her friends or her daughter.

I guess I'm just an old dinosaur, at the young age of 53, who was raised to be courteous, a good listener, aware of my surroundings and to keep my shoulders back, stomach in and head  high.  I'd much rather have people see the smile and stress lines in my face than the grey coming through the top of my head.   

A submissive person I will never be to my cell phone, therefore, I'll not worry about becoming NOMOPHOBIC. It's just another phobia I need not add to my list. For those who have to be in constant communication via cell phone, take a look and see if you fall into the category of Autophobia.


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