Mobile Phones – NO TURNING BACK

It is hard to imagine life without a mobile phone. For the past decades, this small technological device has transformed our lives and has become an extension of ourselves, an essential object that most of us human beings carry during our whole lives.
It was the year 2004; I had graduated from college and I was working as Structural Designer. I was living by myself and all of my friends, family, almost everybody I knew was carrying a cell phone, and couldn’t understand why I didn’t have one. I had a very simple argument for not wanting to buy myself a cell phone: I loved being alone. I loved the feeling of leaving my house knowing that nobody could reach me and being totally by myself.
Seven years later everything changed. I bought myself a cell phone, which allows me to be, at any time, in contact with my friends and family. But I’ll never be able to go out feeling the loneliness I used to feel. Nobody warned me about how my perception of life would be affected by this acquisition.
Objects shape our way of seeing life. Cell phones changed the way we value time and people. Before I had a mobile phone, I needed to think before going somewhere. If I went to watch a film, I would make a decision, and this decision would have consequences: I wouldn’t be able to talk to anybody until I got back home. Before, I would have waited at home for a phone call because I thought that this particular call deserved it. Today there is no “waiting time” I can be anywhere, doing anything and my cell phone will ring. The romantic idea of waiting for someone to call is gone, the value we attribute to our actions have changed. Our moments of loneliness are not entirely lonely. If we leave our mobile phones at home, during the whole time we are aware that we are not carrying them, that our “extension” is missing. We are so used to being with them that it makes us feel weird, empty, as if something were missing when we are without them.
The need to be always in contact with the external world, to know everything that is going on came to stay. The argument about not having a cell phone and how terrible would be not knowing that something bad happened is repeated over and over again. Weren’t things important in the past? Didn’t bad and good news take place in the past? How could people in the past pass a fragment of time without knowing what was happening around them? They had time, they waited, they analyzed things carefully, they appreciated time and space differently, and they made decisions about what to do, and assumed the consequences. Today everything is happening too fast; we cannot go anywhere without our cell phones; we can’t be for a moment doing “nothing.” What in the past used to be part of everybody’s lives, today is determined to disappear.
We are, as Lanier says, locked in the ideas of new technologies, in this case locked in the cell phones that we have created. We forget that we are the creators and that they could be different.
Mobile phones have come to stay with us, and they are so immersed in who we are that a young kid today will never understand what people did, how they lived, without one.
Even though I am not as critical as Lanier, I do believe that we are accepting and embracing every new technology as part of our culture without discussing it, without thinking about how it will make our lives different. For example: why am I carrying a mobile phone with me all day long? What have I lost by doing so? When a new technology is out in the market everybody talks about the “good part of it”, what is society going to gain but nobody ever has paid much attention to what we might lose.
I believe the problem is not that we need to redefine what a person is. The real problem is that we morph into this new definition without us seeing these changes taking place, without us even wondering why are they happening, and what they imply.
Everyday more people are carrying not only their cell phones (in order to make/receive phone calls) but an iPhone, Blackberry, Android from where they can read their email, navigate the internet, play games, basically always be doing something. Today, once again, I find myself a step behind on the new technologies, not sure if I want to take the next step, but this time, I know if I do so, there is no turning back.