“Put that thing away before I throw it in the garbage,” said Choo, motioning toward the cell phone in my hand. I’m sitting with family on the porch and tried to sneak in a quick text but alas, Choo caught me. As a big believer in old-fashioned communication, Choo’s cell phone (an iPhone, nonetheless,) can most likely be found on a random shelf in her closet with 90 unopened texts and 30 voicemails that have yet to be listened to.
Choo always says that millennials lack proper communication skills because they are only familiar with conversing via iMessage. She’s not wrong. Nowadays, you’ll see couples out to dinner with their eyes glued to their phones, failing to communicate with their loved one sitting right in front of them. You’ll see children in the mall, not much older than 7 or 8, with 2 hands on their very own iPhone, slowly lagging behind Mom or Dad so that they can concentrate on the text that they're sending (probably the typical middle school conversation: “Hey, what’s up?” “Nothin’ much, wbu?” “Same.” “Cool.”) You’ll see people of all ages texting at the movie theater during the ENTIRE movie, with their brightness turned all the way up, most likely bothering every single person in the rows behind them.
These three scenarios may not seem all that strange to us because they have become the norm. You receive a text, you respond to it. What’s the harm in that? Now imagine if you didn’t have a phone. I know, hard to believe, but just imagine it. Let’s take a look at three new scenarios.
Scenario #1: You have dinner plans with your special someone. A romantic dinner at one of the most expensive restaurants in town. You don’t have a phone, but your special someone does. You’re at dinner and you spend maybe 10-15 minutes talking about your rough day at work, how you don’t get along with any of your coworkers, and how much of a mess it is. You’re pretty upset just talking about it. It takes you these 10 or so minutes to realize that, no, your date isn’t looking down at their menu, but checking Instagram or Facebook or texting a friend. Very annoying, right?
OK, scenario #2: You haven't spent time with one of your closest friends in a while, and you agree to go shopping at the mall together and catch up. Again, you don’t have a phone, but your friend does. Because you haven't seen them in a while, you are catching your friend up on what they've missed out on in your life. The subject gets a bit touchy and upsetting, and you look over at your friend only to find that they had been texting the entire time. Well, that’s rude. Maybe you not seeing your friend that often should stay that way. Finally, scenario #3: You go to see a movie with whomever, maybe even by yourself. You are so excited to see this movie and have been counting down the days for it to appear in theaters (Finding Dory…coming out June 17th perhaps?). The previews have come to an end and the movie is about to begin when the person sitting right in front of you reaches for their phone and starts texting. Okay, maybe they wanted to send one last text before the movie started. Wrong. They are texting throughout the entirety of the movie, with their iPhone’s brightness on full-blast.
“One day, those phones will kill you,” Choo often says (which is not totally untrue, a new U.S. study came out with ambiguous results on whether cell phone use might cause cancer). The obsession with cell phones has reached its nadir. What happened to phone calls and writing letters? I’ve started using these 2 traditional forms of correspondence with frequency and have come to better appreciate the meaning of communication. I wouldn't have been able to do so without the threats of cellular evil from my loving grandmother, Choo.