Are we addicted to our cell phones?

| Forum Editor

In the media today, we all hear a great deal about the perils of modern technology. We now can be addicted to the Internet, Facebook and Twitter, not to mention the already existent perils like television, alcohol and drugs.

What isn’t often mentioned is our addiction to cell phones. Maybe nobody talks about it because, unlike Twitter and Facebook, cell phones are such useful tools for everything from friendship to business.

I can’t remember the first time I got a cell phone—it was so long ago at this point—but I can remember the last time I got a new one. I felt like a kid at Christmas, excited that I got to pick out a new phone.

I was given suggestions to do research online and figure out what features I wanted. But unlike a computer or other technological device, some basic manufacturing data wasn’t enough. This device would be close enough to me that I needed to be able to hold it in my hand to truly judge whether or not it was right for me.

You can’t just buy one online; you have to see it in person first. There is no other piece of technology that evokes this reaction from a human being.

Every single person is very attached to his or her phone. Can you imagine going out at night without it? Can you even imagine going through the day without it? Most of us never turn our phones off anymore, because it could cut us off from contact. We just leave it on at night while charging, always ready for that incoming text.

What exemplifies this addiction is the fact that when we don’t have our phones, we become distraught. That period in which your phone is out of battery or (God forbid) broken is absolutely unnerving. You immediately try to find a solution, desperately heading back to your dorm to charge it or fix it. If it isn’t fixable, you might put off a solution for a few hours, perhaps a day, but if you don’t have a phone, ending that dilemma quickly jumps to the top of your to-do list.

It doesn’t always stop someone from going out—we aren’t entirely powerless without our phones—but it gets fairly close. When we don’t have our phones, we just feel uncomfortable and awkward, as though there is something missing…something that just isn’t quite right.

But is it a problem? There are obviously addictions that are terrible on a personal level (drugs and alcohol) and potentially devastating on a societal level (oil), but is it really such a bad thing that we are desperately connected to our cell phones?

The answer is a resounding no. Cell phones are useful: They keep us connected to our friends, our colleagues and the world. One of the most interesting development policies for the third world is giving everyone cell phones. It has been wildly successful.

Instead of slowing down our adherence to cell phones, I say ramp we should ramp it up. The world is becoming more interconnected all the time, and we need it at our fingertips.

The way things are progressing, our mobile devices are going to get good enough that we won’t need anything else— not a computer and not an iPod.

The only way these devices won’t be useful is if society collapses to the point where the Internet and electricity won’t be accessible. If that happens, then we are going to have many more problems than simple cell phone addiction.

Until then, we should embrace the benefits that technology can provide. I enjoy the fact that I can find any piece of information I care to learn and speak to anyone I know, no matter where I am in the world. We have access to so much information and can learn almost anything in such a short time period. Who would want to end that? Who could end that? We might be addicted to our cell phones, but in this case, it is just way too good to stop.

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