(Anna Seward)—I got my first cell phone when I was in sixth grade. This marked a clear shift from my hippy elementary school, Portland Waldorf, to the public middle school, Jackson, I would be attending for the next three years. My parents still weren’t so sure about exposing me to technology at a young age, but ultimately my mother’s worries about my safety won over their hippy anxieties. I got texting a few years later and finally upgraded to a QWERTY keyboard in high school. Last semester I got an iPhone.
It’s hard to escape cell phones in our modern world. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in a room full of people supposedly “hanging out” where we’re all actually just updating apps or texting. Apparently, just being near a phone can ruin relationships. In a study where strangers were asked to share personal stories with each other over a ten minute time period, “the strangers who were seated within eyeshot of a phone felt less close and reported a lower quality of relationships with their partner than those who were placed in an environment without a phone in the background” (source).
More importantly, have cell phones changed the way we communicate? Studying abroad, most everyone I know is relying on the cheapest phones with the cheapest calling/texting plans available. T9 has become my life again. I’ve noticed certain differences, though. Mostly, it’s become impossible to find anyone if your phones are in different countries. My friend and I spent two hours trying to hunt down our friend from Copenhagen in Victoria station. I wandered around the Athens airport like a lost puppy for an hour before my friend saved me. These situations are easily remedied. Make more specific plans. Check airplane/bus schedules. Have a back-up meeting point. But I honestly keep forgetting. Luckily I’ve figured out London double-decker buses or I would still be helpless wandering out of an underground tube stop, forgetting I can’t orient myself with a quick iPhone check. Have we as a generation lost the ability to plan ahead?
I don’t know, but it’s something to consider in a world full of babies who think magazines are iPads that don’t work. If we forget how to live without technology, what hope do our future generations have?