"Love! Do you know the meaning of the word?" 'How should I not?' said the Lady, 'I am in love...in Love Himself.'
~C.S. Lewis
The Great Divorce

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Problem of Cell Phones

I was tempted to title this post "The Problem of Evil: Cell Phones", but I restrained myself. Recently, I have become extremely irritated by the ways they interfere in human affairs. When I say human affairs, I do not mean that as an overstatement of the problem. However, cell phones are destroying humanity. Why is it that at a church service people should have to be asked to turn them off? Why is it that a concert hall must print an announcement reminding people to turn of cell phones and pagers? (side note: does anybody still use a pager?)

The more important question I wish to ask and have answered, is why do so many people act like they have no interest in being wherever they are? If I was at dinner with someone having a conversation, would it not seem odd if I never made eye contact? There is something about the physical (not sexual mind you) relationships we have. Contact with other persons has no substitute. Why then, when you are with other people in a situation where you are supposed to be interacting with them, would you resort to calling someone on your cell phone?

I understand a couple of situations. Perhaps, you are genuinely somewhere you would rather not be. I am not talking about that situation. Emergencies are another obvious exception and I'm sure there are others of which I cannot think at the moment.

But my basic point is this, cell phones cause constant interruptions which are enabled by people who find whatever they are doing less interesting than what might be on their cellular device. I find this disruption hurtful. But more than that, it rips apart the fabric of human connection by inserting an invisible other to rupture conversation. Of course, much like guns in the gun control debate, it is not the cell phone at issue, but the people who use and abuse them.

Again, I'm not condemning people who are on their phone frequently. Some of my friends work on the road, they would be alone otherwise. The cell phone for them is a great invention. The phone has also helped me out of several tight situations. I am grateful for that. But in trying to connect more people in more places with each other, what we have actually succeeded in doing is isolating ourselves from the communities in which we find ourselves.

I simply cannot imagine Jesus whipping out a cell phone while ministering to the sick. He would not have sent a text message to someone while the woman taken in adultery was brought to him. Be a friend to the people around you. Talk to them. Make your calls when you are in private or at least excuse yourself from the group if you are going to take or make one.

1 comment:

  1. Over on facebook tonight, I noticed one of my friends joined a group saracastically entitled "thanks for coming over to my house to sit and text other people."