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The mobile drag

Cellular phones have changed the world of interaction. Our ways of interacting with the world are done so through tiny screens controlled by our fingertips. These advancements in communications have robbed us of our basic interpersonal skills – observing what is happening around us and interacting with people face-to-face. Today, most of us cannot go a full hour without using, or even glancing at, our mobile devices. It has become an addiction and a new phobia has arisen as a result of it (nomophobia – the state of stress caused by being away from your smartphone device).

I have witnessed students tripping over steps and bumping into each other as a result of the cellphone diversion. Many of us are guilty of hurrying our way through campus yards and hallways with our heads tilted downward, the majority of our school gear unevenly distributed to one side of our body, with a coffee in one hand and our phone being used in the other. This slows us down and causes us to be late for class.

We are living in a society of impatience. Before cellphones, conversations had to wait until we were able to use a landline. Even when we had access to phones outside the home (i.e., phone booths), we still waited until we arrived home or used them for emergency purposes only. Now we are filled with a need to be in constant contact with the world through every step of our day.

Moreover, phones have caused us to shy away from our fellow peers. During the holidays I was at a house party and the room was illuminated by tiny screens. Over half the people there were typing away their night rather than mingling. Everyone has a story to tell but that oration skill is dying in our society and we sacrifice experience for isolation with our cellphones. We are like hermits in a crowd, living in our phone-caves. Many of us are uncomfortable when someone new approaches us to start a conversation – and it is considered odd.

By using our phones while trekking through campus and during social events, we are losing the ability to focus on the physical reality surrounding us. Take a moment to observe what is happening outside that tiny box. We should exercise our own thoughts and problem solving skills instead of using our phones (i.e., Facebook, someone's blog or Google) to help us find the quick answers to life. Instead of texting a friend for a status update, talk to the person next to you. This is how we learn about and gain understanding of each other. Moreover, it exercises our face-to-face conversation skills, which are necessary in the working world. Let's start interacting with and learning about the world we are sitting in, not the one that fits into the palm of our hand.

Joshua Duff is a fourth-year student majoring in political science and English language and literature at Memorial University. He can be reached at