Call Me

Captain Kirk on hiscommunicator

A quirk of fate left me with no personal electronic devices whatsoever last Friday. I had no I Pad, no IPhones, no Google Google’s.. no Kindle or the like, I had nothing…not even my dumb phone which was at home. It was just me..my observations and my notebook. I must admit I don’t own any of the before mentioned list of gadgets, except the dumb phone-…I  have that..a stupid phone.
So it wasn’t a big deal when I boarded the Max headed toward Beaverton without a gadget or prop.
I sat in a backward facing seat and braced myself for the long tunnel…

The Robertson Tunnel is the MAX Light Rail tunnel that runs through the west hills of Portland, Oregon. There is one station within the tunnel at Washington Park, which at 79 meters deep is the deepest subway station in the United States and the fifth deepest in the world. It’s almost three miles long and takes five minutes pass through. It is cold, dark and loud…

As we travel faster and faster there erupts a high-pitched scream that echoes off the stone walls. This makes for an unnerving and uncomfortable ride for the passengers. Most try to sit there stoically and pretend nothing is going on while we ride it out. A few cover their ears. I am one of the larger stoic group. The unusually long five minutes pass and then it is over. We emerge out of the tunnel. The sky opens up and there is a collective sigh of relief…

…and then everyone is back at their screens. There are some books or newspapers and a few smallish laptops but mostly is what I once heard referred to of as “a bar of soap”; a personal electronic device that fits neatly into the human hand, becoming really an extension of it. A device that many of us seem to be transfixed on and obsessed with a good portion of our time.

cell phone people

According to edtechmagazine.com

84% of Cell phone owners report they could not go a single day without their device and 44% of them confess to having slept with their phone nearby because they didn’t want to miss a notification.

A bit extreme, but common. Becoming addicted to your phone has become such a real condition that experts have given it a name: “Nomophobia” (no-mobile-phone-phobia).

I know this is a world-wide phenomena. It is amazing how much things have changed in the last twenty years . I am old enough to remember what it was like before everyone was “plugged in” I suppose I use the term “plugged in” a bit sharply. I myself am writing this on a laptop and you are reading it on some sort of device.

It cannot be denied how electronic communications have changed the world for good and bad and that nebulous in-between region that we are unsure of until it passes and becomes history. Time will tell how this will effect the future world and how humanity reacts to and with itself.

cell phone cyborg eye-500x375

Often we must give up something to gain something…and in this there is no exception.

In our modern connected world we are tuned in to the hum of the network and the buzz of the instantaneous all knowing all hearing web. We can converse and share with others all over the world in real-time. Never has the human race been so connected. Connected in a cerebral Ethernet. A system that has a collective “mind” of its own.

Of course nothing ever is all black or white..

mount tabor tree view

Never have we as a species been so disconnected to our true nature, ourselves and each other….and to our planet..  Many immerse themselves exclusively in temperature controlled artificial environments, driving from one place to another in an air-conditioned fossil fuel burning car.

Why ever leave the “comfort” of the indoors?

cell phonest1larg_cellphones_ts

Why strike up a conversation with a stranger on the train when you can stare at your screen and get those thumbs going. I’ve noticed and I can’t be the only one to see that people seem to use their electronic device as a social barrier,,as some sort of protection in a world where increasingly social intimacy with your fellow person isn’t as important anymore…..and isn’t too kosher.  The world is a dangerous place. It is easier and sometimes safer to just keep to yourself and look as disinterested as can be.

invasionofthebodysnatchers-poster1-halfsheet

I am reminded of the classic Science Fiction tales of the 50’s, 60’s where beings from outer space or some unknown alien force takes over humanity in subtle and not so subtle ways.

This whole thing reminds me of just that. The entity, that thing or phenomena…whatever you call it….be it the web, the internet , the screen. the hive mind or the collective or the big stupid distraction, whatever it is…..this THING is taking over.

org Picture-1

Social realities are changing. People tune each other out almost to the point where they pretend each other isn’t there. It seems there is some unwritten law that you can completely ignore your fellow human. As long as you pretend you cannot see one another, as long as you don’t look at each other in the eye. Once you look at another person in the eye, is it is too late and now you are socially obligated to acknowledge each other.  Perhaps to the point of greeting and maybe even.. gasp….conversation.

It makes me wonder what the future brings…

I suppose on occasion I will endeavor to put my dumb phone away. It fits nicely into the zippered pocket of my purse and maybe every once in a while I’ll just forget it all together…

Have a splendid rest of your day…

Strawberryindigo.

*

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

References and Related Articles

Impressive statistics about mobile device use (edtechmagazine.com)

Shocking Ways Your Cell Phone Is Hurting Your Health (fitnessmagazine.com)

Are You Addicted to Your Cell Phone? (psychologytoday.com)

Cell Phone Addiction Hits Shocking Levels Reveals Morningside Recovery (prweb.com)

Cell phone scare for men: Don’t hold your phone with your private parts (junkscience.com)

Cell phones in the classroom (hellandnicole.wordpress.com)

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48 thoughts on “Call Me

  1. I have to admit to using my phone as a barrier to conversation at times.. Not all the time, but occasionally I’m on the train and I just don’t WANT to talk to anyone.. so it’s a good excuse.. Mostly though, I’m more than happy to have a conversation with a fellow passenger.. 🙂

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    • There are times Livonne when to me, nothing is better than just sitting in silence and reflection, especially on a commute. I’m learning to do more and more of that all the time. Thanks for stopping by.
      🙂

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  2. I had a similar experience on Amtrak from B’more to NYC. I got up to get something from the snack car and, walking through the cars I saw person after person plugged into an electronic device. However, it wasn’t the electronic devices per se that bothered me; it was the fact that ninety percent of the people using them, especially the tablet devices, were using them passively. We’ve become passive consumers of our own experience, taken, processed and fed back to us by companies.

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  3. My cell phone is the only ‘electronic’ device I have (apart from my laptop) and I decided to get a simple ‘calls and texts’ option for it, without the internet, because I like being connected to the real world, rather to the virtual world. I recently went to Paris and didn’t have a map or the internet on my phone to check for directions on how to get to a certain place. So I asked two girls near me who were looking at a map and they happened to be going to the same place as me. We ended up spending the rest of the afternoon visiting Paris together and had a great time! None of this would have been possible had I had the answer on my phone!

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  4. Nancy, these are such pithy observations on where our infatuation with technology is going. I too am aghast at the sight of people sharing a lunch table-they look like they went to lunch together-and no one is talking. They are all texting into their own little screen device. What’s with that?!? And kids are learning about the world from watching what some programmer wants them to see instead of experiencing real life, instead of moving their bodies in the real world. Have you seen the google glass prototype? Your screen is always available in front of your eyes, and you see the world thru the screen. I don’t think we are all that far from Borg implants and The Collective. Enough of my rant. Well done, my friend!

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    • Hi Janet! I regret it has taken me so long to respond to your well-reasoned and thoughtful comment. I’ve been taking a break from the internet myself…and writing somewhat. For lots of reasons, time, energy etc..but mostly I’m taking time out to figure out what to do next and do a bit of living then write about it later.
      Your comment really strikes a chord in me. It provokes the identical chill I get realizing these now common occurrences of this behavior and it’s spooky. This makes me want to escape out into the middle of a foresty nowhere…help!
      Honestly what I need is some quiet time working in the garden. Today is a sunny Saturday and I am setting out to do just that!
      Thanks for being there my friend! I hope your weekend is wonderful.

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      • Getting hands in the dirt is good therapy, and gets us literally in touch with what is real. Which we need given the virtual world we spend so much time in. I did a good bit of thinning day lilies and trimming back shrubs this weekend. I hope that both our brains and our gardens are better for our having spent time in the life-giving soil of our beautiful planet.

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    • “what some programmer wants them to see”

      It’s worse than that, I’m afraid. It’s what the corporation that hired the programmer wants them to see.

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  5. It’s frightening, isn’t it! But I’m sure conversation will never die for those who seek it. Really enjoyed reading this Nancy. Have a good week! 😀

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    • Hey Cathy, Thanks for the kind words. Yes, I think you are right; the art of conversation will never die for those who practice it.

      Sorry my response comes so late, busy week, too much going on. I’m looking forward to playing catch up with your wonderful blog this weekend.

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  6. How true! I know I have become sucked into the small screen…my friend reminded me of what a dream world it is, how it is a bunch of projections and half-truths. And I am beginning to put my phone away. It is hard, but it is necessary. We are so addicted to being in touch all the time, to the point, who are we then? The internet, mobile phones, so seductive, so easy, and so unnecessary if we think about it. I mean, what would people do if we lost it all?

    This addiction is not helping us as a society…indeed I agree. It is troubling. Great post, Strawberryindigo! 🙂

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  7. My teacher friend told me that young kids don’t learn how to listen, talk, communicate… as they should. Thank you for sharing your insights!

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  8. Great blog! And the links are a terrific resource. I still have a “dumb” cell phone as well as a house phone, can you imagine! And a notebook. Or many notebooks. And books. I’ll confess, I have used reading a book as a way of not having to interact with fellow humans on public transportation. I’ll probably get a smart phone this fall, though – after I return from my summer’s trek up north.

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    • Hey Joanne: We must be birds of a feather; along with my dumb phone, I have notebooks, tons of them filled with my almost unreadable scrawl. You will have to let me know how the smart phone works for you…Thanks for stopping by.

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  9. We are the creators of the technology, not the other way round. Technology is meant to ease our lives.
    Thank you for liking my Haibun ‘The Sun’, your future visits and likes. Hope you enjoy 🙂

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  10. I guess the (remote) future brings sentient computers raised like children with a complete humanlike experience, but via digital input only all connected via whatever passes for internet then. Those ‘People’ can do whatever they want without any risk since everything is virtual. You’ll live as long as energy powers the machines.

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  11. I admit, I need my phone, I have been invaded. However, and I don’t know if this is rare and maybe the invaders have their mechanical eyes on me for this, I am quick to put it down for a conversation on the bus, train (public) for some odd reason I like to talk to strangers…nice piece as usual. PS I love Oregon…

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  12. Very well written – technology is our master – people seem to have no idea that the answering machine is invented – so we aren’t actually need to be a slave to technology all the time… 🙂 😉

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  13. I can’t quite figure out why, but phones tend to annoy me (unless there is an essential purpose to the phone call). To me the extreme is when you see two (generally) kids sitting next to each other and texting… it seems that normal conversation is dying.

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    • Oh Gunta, It sometimes strikes me as so downright bizarre. Everyone is staring at these tiny screens…it’s kinda creepy. I know I see a lot of it because of the commute. I tend to look at the people who are reading a book or at least a kindle or something in a different light as some others. There is a lot to be said for thinking of nothing and just staring out the window, not as easy as it sounds…
      Great to see you My friend!

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  14. Fantastic. This is just perfectly excellent Nancy. I’ve spread it out there abit on the social network of ‘online things’ you refer to. Couldn’t help myself. Even as we communicate this way (happily so) there is that concern about where this is all going! And I very easily put everything away and head for the river here (the Columbia) in Washington. And yes I miss, miss, miss Portland and the Max and all the other wonderful things that make up that “coolest” city in the country (biased here)! Thanks for a great post my friend! 🙂 xx

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  15. I for one am resisting- not for the sake of being a Luddite but I have some serious misgivings about “the Body Snatchers”. It has been a wait and see strategy and what I see happening to society does not bode well.

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