These days, most people seem to carry a cell phone wherever they go. Many are smartphones that are, in essence, handheld computers.
Users are constantly checking email, playing games, updating Facebook, tweeting, reading news, texting – heads down, oblivious to surroundings, absorbed in whatever is on that little screen, distracted from the world.
“As of September 2013, 91% of American adults have a cell phone. 55% have a smartphone.”1 The numbers shift across demographics, but not so much as one might think. For those making over $75,000, 96% have cell phones with 76% being smartphones while the numbers for those under $30,000 are 85% and 41%, for example.
The first cell phone call took place on April 3, 1973, with a two-pound device with a maximum talk time of thirty minutes. Accompanied by reporters on a Manhattan walk, according to Motorola engineer Martin Cooper, a call was placed to Joel Engel, a longtime rival at Bell Labs.2
Cooper began: “Guess who this is, you sorry sonofabitch?” Cooper says he could hear Engel whisper to a colleague, “It’s him again” and the Bell official then hung up. Cooper continued to roam around mid-town Manhattan with reporters in tow, dialing in to Engel’s office every once in a while and asking, “Can you hear me now?”3
In the 40 years since that first call, mobile phones have brought societal changes, some readily recognized, others not. Sexting and bullying via cell phone, driving while texting, and cell phone addiction are all extensively discussed in online articles.
Yesterday, though, I came across something that I would never have thought of being abusive – cell phone photography.
There was a time the entire world didn’t have a camera in their pocket—the first thing that cell phones did was to kill the autograph business. Nobody cares about your autograph. There are cameras everywhere, and there are media outlets for them to “file their story.” They take your picture in line for coffee. They’re trying to get a picture of your baby. Everyone’s got a camera. When they’re done, they tweet it. It’s … unnatural. (Alec Baldwin)4
Now, I’m not particularly a fan of Alec Baldwin or most any other celebrity. However, I do see overt actions of much of the paparazzi as offensive and odious. It’s a shame that people intrude on the lives of others in that same way with their cell phone cameras.
All I can say is Put….down…. the…. PHONE!
Put it in your pocket. Stow it in your purse.
Do you have a cell phone? Smart phone? What about mobile phones annoys you?
1 Pew Research Internet Project – Cell Phone and Smartphone Ownership Demographics
2 Pew Research Internet Project – The First Cell Phone Call: Excerpt from “Networked: The New Social Operating System”
3 Networked: The New Social Operating System by Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman © 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
4 Vulture (a New York Magazine blog) – Alec Baldwin: Good-bye, Public Life