Well, well, well, it appears that your humble scribe is not
so crazy after all. About a year and a half ago I wrote an article
Wonderful World of Wireless Communication”. It detailed
in great length my disdain for the cellular phone. Mostly anecdotal
in nature, I chronicled my observations of the device that I
declared would eventually contribute to the downfall of America.
People laughed, my colleagues scoffed, all while cellular phone
sales sailed through the outer stratosphere.
But alas, some new research suggests that I may have been on
A recent study conducted by information technology students
at Rutgers University suggests that people are not only obsessed,
but even worse, they are emotionally attached to their cellular
A professor at the New Jersey school asked 220 of his students
to shut off their cell phones for three days – no dialing,
no text messaging, no email. Some panicked, others trembled
in fear, and in the end just three were able to complete the
Their professor, Sergio Chaparro, told the Sacramento Bee
recently, “They were afraid. They were truly afraid.
They thought it was going to be a painful experience and they
When I ask people what is the fascination with cell phones,
they inevitably say they are not addicted to their “cell”,
they are simply in love with it. They cite convenience, technological
sophistication, and status as the reasons for their affection.
But what I find interesting is that approximately eight of every
10 people I ask, immediately say they are not addicted. I don’t
ask if they are but they offer it anyway. Translation: it is
the old ‘where there is smoke there is fire’ theory.
If these people are suggesting they are not addicted, they likely
considered it themselves at some point. It is human nature.
People’s emotional attachment to the cell phone extends
far beyond American borders. The problem is prevalent all over
A recent Korean study found that nearly a third of high school
students showed symptoms of being addicted to their cell phones.
These symptoms mainly consisted of paranoia when they were “phoneless”
and being constantly worried that they may have missed an important
text message from a friend or relative.
In Britain, researchers uncovered essentially the same data,
pointing to the fact that people saw their cell phones as “an
essential extension of self.”
While I have officially gone on the record in the past as saying
I will never own a cell phone, I have an admission to make.
I have a cell phone. Yes, yours truly, the analog man living
in the digital world, has broken down the walls to the cellular
jungle and entered the wickedly wild world of wireless communication.
For the record, I do not own the phone. My employer now requires
me to have one.
Before I serenade you with tales of the telephone, let me say
that I refuse to become one of those people sitting on a park
bench seemingly having a conversation with the voices in their
head. Nor will I be the person strolling through the mall with
one hand pressed to my ear while walking in a zombie like state.
I will not be one of those people who appear to be conducting
an orchestra in their car on the commute home. And you have
my heartfelt promise that I will not block the aisles at supermarkets,
hardware, or video stores as I read a label to someone on the
other end of the phone.
Just yesterday I was teetering on the brink of cell phone oblivion.
As my wife and I were walking our newborn son through the local
zoo, I received a call on my “tool of convenience”
in the barnyard exhibit. Seemingly benign in nature, I fielded
the call and began conversing with a business associate while
facing the most enormous pig we had ever seen. Not two minutes
into the conversation, snickers, giggles, and guffaws resonated
throughout the barn. Upon completion of my call, I turned to
face the source of my consternation. It was a family of four
who noted that when they entered the barn it appeared I was
having a passionately engaging conversation with “Rudy”
the Yorkshire pig. I wasn’t laughing.
I am happy to report that I only used 54 of 800 “free”
minutes in the first month of my contractual agreement with
“The Big Brother Cell Phone Company of America”.
People have practically been imploring me, ‘Use them up,
use them up, use them up.” My feeling is if I don’t
have a need then why should I force myself to use up my minutes
just for the sake of it. The last thing I want to be doing is
sitting at home at 8pm on the last day of the month and randomly
calling people I don’t really want to talk to just to
get proper value for my free minutes. I just don’t have
the patience for that.
If I were to employ that philosophy, I would need to have talked
non-stop for over 12 hours on the last day of May. No thanks.
Plain and simple, I believe we are a nation that is well on
its way to becoming addicted to cellular phones. Companies are
marketing cell phones so cheaply these days that virtually anyone
can own one. Thousands of cell phone owners are under 10 years
of age and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if a legion of
homeless people living on the streets of America owned them.
Cell phones can be a dependable lifeline between family and
friends, creating a tremendous feeling of security, but they
can serve as a detriment to our society as well.
Said Chaparro to the Sacramento Bee, “It’s
not about stopping progress. Nothing will stop the cell phone.
It’s about making people realize that perhaps they are
a little too dependent on them and that maybe there are other
ways to interact.”
In I Corinthians 6:12, Paul writes, “All things are lawful
for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful
for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
Apparently, at the time Paul wrote this, some Christians in
Corinth were excusing themselves from “small, insignificant
sins” by saying that 1) Jesus Christ had taken away all
sin, so they had complete freedom to live as they pleased, and,
2) what they were doing was not strictly forbidden by scripture.
Paul answered them by saying that while Christ has taken away
our sin, this does not give us the freedom to continue doing
what we know is wrong.
Before you get frustrated with what I just wrote and leave
the article, let me say first that I am not some crazy, legalistic
yahoo. All I am trying to articulate is that some people have
become overly dependent on their cell phones. You know who you
are. You are the type who can’t make it through a day
without hearing your personalized, jingling ring. You feel lost
if you are separated from your lifeline to family, friends,
and colleagues. The buzz in your pocket is a heart warming sensation.
Some actions are not sinful in themselves, but they are not
appropriate because they can control our lives and lead us away
Freedom is a mark of the Christian faith. Freedom from sin
and guilt, and freedom to use and enjoy anything that comes
from God. But Christians should not abuse that freedom and hurt
themselves. Drinking too much can lead to alcoholism. Gluttony
can lead to obesity. Overusing a cell phone can become a permanent
distraction, even an addiction.
Be careful that what God has allowed you to enjoy does not
grow into a bad habit that controls you.
Are you using your cell phone too much?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.