A little less conversation

The year I turned 16, my parents decided that something had to be done about the unsettling notion of their daughter behind the wheel. They figured that if I ever got into an accident, everything would be okay if I had a cell phone. Apparently they hadn’t noticed the growing number of drivers swerving across the roadways in their attempts to steer while juggling their bite-sized cell phones.

I’ve been a somewhat reluctant cell-phone user since that year, but it wasn’t until I began to write for the Journal that my phone became an integral part of my life, its shrill ringtone driving both me and my housemates up the wall. I tend to keep my phone at the bottom of a bag inside my closet. By the time I answer it, I’m usually out of breath and inadvertently speaking at about twice the decibel level I would in a standard, pre-Verizon exchange.

That’s me. Then there are other girls­—those who talk on the phone while they’re waiting for the bus, walking to class, standing in line, or eating their lunch. Those who forget to turn down their ring volume, causing varied—often entertaining—reactions from professors.

The other night, though, I saw something that fascinated me even more than the girl who eats, sleeps and breathes cellular conversation. I watched how a guy attempting to charm a group of girls dealt with his cell phone. Once or twice, he opened the phone as if expecting to find a text message. A few times he dialed a number, put the phone to his ear, said nothing, and flipped it closed again. At one point, his phone actually rang. The seven-word conversation that resulted wasn’t worth following, but it made me think.

Who was he talking to? What were they talking about? Was he a powerful financial analyst? Perhaps he was a Tinseltown mogul in need of frequent updates on his chaotic schedule. Chances are he was merely hoping that his friend—a much more corporeal social crutch than a Razr—would return to help him fortify his outpouring of witty remarks concerning accomplishments in the consumption of alcohol. But in the meantime, the apparent popularity given to him by his excessive cell-phone use might have made him feel just a little bit better about himself.

A quick visit to Wikipedia told me that in a number of countries, including England, there are actually more “mobiles” than there are people. Perhaps having multiple cell phones is like having multiple friends around to help you impress the ladies.

The cell phone offers not only a means to communicate with others; these days, cell phones are cameras, photo albums, video cameras, MP3 players, board games, and mini-computers. Somehow, cell phones are becoming our new best friends. The days of awkward lulls in conversation are days of the past. After all, you never know when a time-sensitive, potentially life-altering text message will pop up, allowing you to regain your cool. If you have a cell phone, you must be important. Right? I have nothing against convenient methods of communication. I simply think that we need to deglamourize our concept of the cell phone. After all, a phone is just a phone.

If you disagree, call me on it.

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