Wednesday, 01 July 2015 21:05

People and their phones

talk and text talk and text

What is it with people and their phones?

Lately I’ve been observing that it is seemingly compulsory for us to use our phones. Does it really have to be right next to us at all times? Do we really have to always be online?

No matter where you look, the phones are on the table: not in a bag, not in any pocket, but on the table. They are preferably within centimetres of a hand, so you can hit that touch screen the second that really important news comes in.

The other day I was teaching a group of teenaged English students for the first time and the phones were… on the table – in class! Obviously, they were not there for long.

I manage to keep my phone in my bag – at least, most of the time. I do not believe I am offending or ignoring anyone if I briefly check my phone/social media accounts when I go out on my own, which I often do for some writing away from home. I also often laugh at myself: I am just checking to make sure no one has been trying to urgently reach me in those looong 20-or-so-minutes where I was offline.

This, of course, would be a person whose ‘call’ function on their phone was broken.

But even without checking, one can hardly stay oblivious; those “lifesaving” wi-fi vibes are picked up, automatically and your phone will beep and hum and vibrate to tell you ‘Quick, quick! Someone needs to see you online, now!’

I am a bit of a social media junky, but I do try to live out my addiction in the privacy of my own home and like to think that like most things I do, share, follow in any media are entertaining and/or aiding my ‘mission’ of spreading positive vibes.

My observations of the world around me with regards to this ‘phone thing’ have, however, been worrisome. I’ve watched friends around a table – sometimes as many as 5 or 6 – all of them with their heads down, taken by what’s being ‘said’ online rather than by the people who are actually available for a ‘real’ conversation.

Couples, not having one word to say to each other, youngsters and grown-ups walking in the street with their heads down.

I was intrigued to find out that in one town in China a pedestrian path has been introduced especially for phone users! Or rather phone addicts? In Germany, I am told they are considering laws and fines as ‘head down pedestrians’ are beginning to constitute a serious safety hazard in the streets.

That’s news worth pondering: a law that makes people look up while walking… and then maybe a law that makes people talk to each other while sharing a table?

But yet again, there’s a positive spin to it all: as I was writing this article, I noticed two young men in a café across from me, heads down, perfectly depicting the scenario I was describing.

When I asked if I could use a picture of them for my column, it turned out they were actually very much against this ‘anti-social behaviour’ I was talking about and one of them was just receiving lessons on the use of his new phone.

I hope there are more of us out there who are against anti-social behaviour and pro ‘heads up’.

As published in the Cyprus Weekly June 26 2015 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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