Saturday, January 10, 2009

• Cell Phone Invasion Of Thought

There exists a space of about six feet in diameter around each of us that has long been considered our very personal and intimate domain. We become uncomfortable when someone invades that space uninvited, yet cell phones invade more than our personal space. They intrude on the moment.

Whether cell phones have become an addiction can be debated, however, what has become an incontrovertible event of daily life is the cell phone’s ability to vexingly override everything and anything that might be momentarily adventuring in the minds of hundreds of millions of us. Elevators, for example, bundle others into our small unconcealed air space, but these invaders don’t generally intrude on our cerebral deliberations and consciousness. Our personal spaces are intruded on unusually when we are in motion. Thought, on the other hand, is invaded by untimely surprises of cell phone rings. Sudden appearance of a call, forces a diversion, even a dismissal, of whatever is preoccupying our minds in the moment.

When in a conversation with an acquaintance or friend, and the person’s phone rings, their attention is instantly diverted. Even if they don’t automatically answer the call, they will check who is calling, then perhaps provide an accommodating gesture indicating the caller is less important in their lives. The gesture is not reassuring. Their glance returns to the phone, there is a hesitation, then the decision becomes final. Your discussion is to continue. The sequence of the moment has been broken. The discussion, intimate or business, received a decisive insinuation. Whether you were more important than the intruder, you might never know. A phone’s ring barged in on your fellow traveler’s thoughts, as well as your own. You can’t help but be irritated. All of us feel that irritation daily.

The rudeness, or selfish behavior that intrudes on our lives by those who must share loud cell phone conversations with crowds, are not the most disturbing trend impacting our cultures. The most troubling reality is the cell phone’s random intrusion willingly allowed into our minds, striking rudely into the heart of our thinking, deliberating, pondering, creating, considering, or reading, and writing. We accede to the most invasive trespassing when we are alone, yet that is when we do much of our more important thinking. It would treat mankind to preferential treatment and would nurture humanity’s advancement if we implored our cell phones to provide us some long disconnections from the ring. Our common consciousness would be grateful.

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