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Lamenting the tolls of cellular society
Posted on April 21, 2006

Deep within my black purse I hear a piercing double-beep. My face curls into a painful cringe as I dig for my dying “friend.” Illuminated blue with white letters, my cell phone reads “Low Battery.” Turning the phone to silent, I try to squeeze in as much time as possible scribbling down voicemail information and making last minute calls. All too soon, my tool of communication’s screen has swirled into an emptiness of lifeless black. 9 a.m. Letting out a deep and irritated sigh, I knew this was going to be a long, long day.

My cell phone and I have had a two-year relationship, not long by some standards, but technology–wise she’s practically ready for a retirement home. Senile in her old age, my cell phone has been acting up by randomly cutting out, choosing strange reception spots, throwing temper tantrums, and experiencing jumbled screens and slow reflexives.

And on this particular day last week, although I had plugged in my silver Motorola phone the night before, the little devil chose to die in the morning anyway. I do not blame her for being angry with me. Bumped and bruised, scratched and flimsy, my cell phone has taken quite a beating from my habitual clumsiness.

However, that morning could not have been a worse time for a fit. As a journalism major, I am constantly on the phone with sources. And this day was no different, except the person I was trying to contact was an Emmy-award winner on his way to New York with whom I could only speak to at noon that day. I played phone tag all day from awkward land lines from La Verne to Pasadena setting up the interview. Finally, the interview happened and turned out alright, but at the end of the day I had a crushing headache that only technology can administer.

When I arrived home at 6 p.m., I found five voicemails waiting for my tardy attention. Luckily the messages were not urgent, but the next day I had quite a mess to clean up. After unplugging my phone from a successful charge later that night, a sense of relief swept over my mind. And after reflecting on that sanctuary moment, I realized the core of my stress for just one day had been the absence of my mobile phone. As many times as it’s been said before, it is amazing how much we depend on cell phones.

I remember a time when mom used to slip change in my pocket for a call when I took a typical pre-teen trip to the mall. I can still recall picking waxy grass from my middle school’s playground while waiting for dad to pick me up after school; without any hint of when that time would be. And not too long ago in high school, my family and I used to share a beastly cell phone for whoever left the house. I only first received my own personal calling device when I was a junior in high school.

Everywhere I go I see younger middle-schoolers chatting away on their phones. It seems these days that everyone’s ears, nine to 99, are on a cell phone.

In my opinion, children under the driving age should only have a phone to call home and an emergency number. For as much good as technology does, I’m afraid it will leave my future children to be mumbling zombies staring blankly into a computer screen with melted ears to the phone.

The funny thing is I’m only 20 – and I’m writing this as if I’m some kind of old child-hating woman. I guess that’s just how fast technology moves.

Nicole Knight, a junior journalism major, is managing editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at