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Monday, November 15, 2010

First Column in the Pioneer: cell phone use

I was going through back issues of the Pioneer today, and I thought some of you may enjoy reading my first column I wrote, back in the August 25th issue. It's regarding cell phone use in public.

Insider Reflections
With Ashley Foley
Growing up in a small town of about 500 with no cell phone service was not out of the ordinary for me. I didn’t use my cell phone much, and didn’t see the need to use it when I was at home.
Then when I spent four years in Toronto in school, we were taught not to have our cell phones on during a lecture. Heaven forbid your cell phone beeps to notify a text message or even worse, that awful Lady Gaga ring tone you thought was so cool when you downloaded comes on in the midst of a Psychology or Multimedia lecture.
Busted. Kicked out of the lecture. I’m not sure which is worse, being made fun of by the professor in front of a full lecture hall, or having to leave like a kindergartener who was being disruptive.
After moving to La Crete, I am very surprised at how dependent people are on their cell phones. And I’m not talking about the teenagers either, that’s inevitable. I’m talking about you guys, the mid thirties to seniors.
To me, my cell phone never comes before a face-to-face conversation. If I am at lunch and my cell phone goes off, I don’t answer it because the person I am visiting with is more important than a phone call.
However, I have been speechless at the number of events I have attended where people are not only not turning off their ringers, but also answering calls in the middle of the events.
For example, when I arrived at the MARA Field Day event a few weeks ago, I made sure to turn off my ringer before walking in. An old university habit, I suppose.
I was surprised to see that I was among the few who had the courtesy to turn off my ringer. In a room filled with people aged 35-60, I can’t count the number of times a cell phone disrupted the speakers.
Not only that, but there was more than one person who answered their cell phone without leaving the lecture, which not only was disruptive to the lecturers, but also to the people around that person, as well.
Of course, not everyone in attendance was gabbing on their cell phones, but there was constantly cell phones ringing and dinging throughout the lectures.
Today’s youth have been labeled as cell phone crazed and technology dependent, and this may be so. I for one, try to have polite cell phone etiquette in public places. I have been the one at the front of a lecture trying to get the attention of those on cell phones, and let’s be honest, how can I compete with a Lady Gaga ring tone?
Ask yourself this: how dependent on your cell phone are you? Could you go without texting, bbming, or calling for a day? A week? Or even for a couple of hours to give respect to the host of an event?

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