Monday, September 28, 2020

Do you own the cellphone or it owns you?

What is it really about a cell phone that you feel empty when you realise you forgot it at home or when you lose it or just when you are a few meters away from it?

I have walked around and actually realised that though many people have pockets, or handbags, they would rather hold their phone in their hand all the way!

And no, it is not a way of showing off; I believe it just has everything to do with the fact that we just can’t do without it!

We are too dependent on it and we feel that as long as it’s in our hand, we are assured and even comforted by its presence.

I, like many others, find myself going to sleep with it and working up fumbling for it everywhere under the blankets.

I do this without expecting any call (but, in fact, hoping for one or even a text message!). I just got used to having it around me.

And as with many people, I believe the cellphone has made a lot of things convenient for us; we just want it within range all the time.
A few weeks ago, I sat with a couple of colleagues and we discussed how cell phones have confused us and how we have changed our values to accommodate their presence to the point of altering some our traditions.

We have come up with lazy approaches to everything, thanks to cell phones, one Itseng said as she narrated what happened once when she found a lost cellphone once.
“I went on to the contacts and searched to see if I could get any clues as to whom the phone belonged to. I called one number I found on the list and told the man at the other end that I had found the phone and he should inform the owner that she should call it and come collect it from me.”

We all were thrown into fits of laughter when she told the part where the person she had just talked to called back to announce the lost phone to her! Of course, at that time, we all thought he was stupid or dumb because how do you call the person who had just called you to tell the same thing they had told you? But then we realized the call was sincere and intended for the person who had lost the phone! To him, he was just relaying the message.

It was then that terrifying “cell phone tales” were told.
One of the colleagues told of a time that he was looking for his cellphone and thought that the easiest way to deal with the issue was to page his own phone.

“I started fumbling for my cellphone so that I could page my cellphone,” he said shaking his head. “I had lost my phone and was trying to page it with the same phone I had misplaced.” Confusing?
At the peak of the conversation, someone else chirped in, “The funny thing is I have actually convinced myself of trying to find other missing items in the house the same way I would a cell phone. I would think I can find the keys by paging them!”

In his article, “Bitten by the cell phone bug”, colleague Jackson Rautenbach wrote: “Though this is just another of the many wonders of technology, to many, cellular phones are more than just a communication gadget.”

Maybe it is the “one in all technology” the cell phone presented before us that has made us so attached to it and rely even more on it.

From calling, texting, taking videos, pictures, accessing the web, using it as a watch, playing games to watching television and listening to the radio and even typing out word documents on some cell phones, we, surprisingly, want more functions from it!

We can’t stop viewing it just as a cellphone as the name suggests, it has also to be a game board and a flashlight!

And for this reason, we believe we have to buy every new range being offered because it comes with a new feature.

Cellphones have made it possible to do just about everything while sitted on your verandar.
They reach into space and show us live videos from Mars while ordinary people have become international stars by capturing real “breaking news” on their cellphones and posting them on the Internet, beating established news organizations like CBS, CNN, SKY NEWS and others.
And some can’t forget the cellphone clandestinely recording the hanging of Saddam Hussein, whose last moments would have forever been lost to history had somebody not palmed a small cellphone and recorded the hanging for posterity!

The cellphone has so much presence that people who misplace their phones call in sick at work because they feel too alone, lost and directionless without their phones.
Yet the biggest attachment we have to this gadget is that it knows and keeps our deepest secrets so much that they have become our soul mates.

No, I confess; I cannot leave home without it.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.