A Reliable Source: 2/24/12

By Misha Brooks and Jacob Hanawalt

Of the technology that surrounds us today, one of the most used and possibly most important is the cell phone. We use them everywhere, often when we shouldn’t: when on dates, while driving, in class. The frequency at which we use them isn’t surprising: modern cell phones let us do anything from communicating with friends to waking us up for school to banking. Despite their vast uses and applications, cellphones are still plagued by the issues that have stuck with them from the start.

One of the most important features of the phone, phone calls, doesn’t seem to have improved much since the days when phones were effective bludgeoning instruments. In the age of high–definiton audio, calls still sound as though someone is chewing ice in the background. This unforgiving static noise is almost at the same annoyance level as telemarketers who in one week have told me that my car has been impounded at least seven times, my healthcare is in jeopardy almost everyday, and that I have won two free trips to Hawaii. Either my life is a lot more exciting than I thought it was, or someone's making stuff up. I don’t have a car or health insurance, and if I have to give my social security number out to go to a tropical paradise, I’ll pass.

Texting seems like the logical alternative to calls. They are usually easy to understand, aren’t liable to be cut out mid–sentence, and are pretty easy to conceal under a desk in more delicate situations. In spite of these advantages over a traditional call, they bring with them a host of other issues. Texting is easily one of the most ambiguous forms of communication. It becomes impossible to gauge another’s feelings with no way to see them, and a conversation can begin to feel like a dark room filled with numerous trapdoors marked, “YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE SAID THAT.”

A feeling that often gets in the way of successful cell phone usage is anticipation. This is often due to a large host of people who randomly decide to take hours to text back, or don’t do so at all. You reread your text looking for the reason that they didn’t respond, and come up with a thousand reasons that most likely have no basis. Nothing makes a person more jittery than waiting for a response. I could write a whole book on the subject: “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”

There are a few symptoms that follow the delayed response. “Phantom Vibrations” for example. Your jeans rubbing against the inside of your thigh combined with the expectation of a text can result in a false vibration that makes you think you’ve received a text. You’ll pull out your phone look at the blank screen disappointingly and be forced to put it back in your pocket textless. Remember: It’s all in your head.

There are around five billion cell phone subscriptions on Earth. That means five billion butt dials, five billion misread text message, five billion wrong numbers to call. Cell phones, though convenient, have much room for error.