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Writer's Notes - By Jeanne Dininni

 
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The Cell Phone: Both a Blessing and a Curse

December 5th 2008 07:48


Cell Phones: A Revolution in Communication

Writers understand the importance of communication perhaps more than many "ordinary" people do. Yet, writing is but one mode of communication. Despite the revolutionary advances that have created the worldwide network known as the Internet—which allows us to send the written word (and many other types of media) halfway across the world—still another interwoven web of networks has further expanded the reach of everyday people, simplifying and yet complicating our lives at the same time: the system of communication known as the cellular telephone network.


Convenience vs. Annoyance

Cell phones offer so much convenience to our busy, often-hectic lives that it would be difficult to imagine life without them. Yet, along with that convenience come certain annoyances (from tiny irritations to infuriating distractions)—and even serious potential dangers—that should certainly give us pause. At the very least, these unpleasant cell-phone realities should make us pause long enough—and in mid-conversation, I might add—to consider the consequences of thoughtless, irresponsible, and downright dangerous cell phone use.


Fight Cell Phone Abuse!


Thoughtless Cell Phone Use

Most of us have been at least mildly irritated by the thoughtlessness of cell phone users who ignore everyone else around them while speaking loudly into that harmless looking little device they have glued to their ear. If we were totally honest, of course, many of us would have to admit to having actually been that thoughtless cell phone user at one time or another. Yet, it somehow seems so different when it's our conversation—which we all know is so much more important…necessary…excusable than the other guy's…

(You don't think that mindset we so innocently display could possibly be more widespread than we realize, do you? That it might actually contribute to the problem the other guy has being polite to others while in the vicinity of his cell phone? Hmmm…Certainly gets one thinking, doesn't it?)


Cell Phones: A Wonderful Invention

Cell phones are a wonderful invention—no question about it. They make it possible for stranded people to get help. They alert first responders when emergencies occur. They reassure us that our loved ones are safe while they're traveling far from home. They enable us to call ahead when traffic snags, preventing us from getting to an appointment on time. They even let us find each other at the mall or in the supermarket, or call one another with that indispensable dinner ingredient we've somehow forgotten to put on the shopping list. Yet, to one particular segment of society, they do much more than the above, improving the lives of this group in a far more fundamental way.


A Group for Whom Text Messaging Equals New Freedom

Modern cell phones allow the Deaf to communicate directly with one another and with the hearing with more freedom and portability than ever before possible, through text messaging while on the go instead of being limited to using a non-portable TTY device or having to resort to the long, drawn-out process of communicating through a relay operator via computer.

This new method of communicating via cell phone is, for the Deaf Community, a totally unprecedented capability made possible because mobile technology has advanced beyond mere voice communications. It opens brand new vistas for an entire cross-section of individuals who are every bit as talented, intelligent, and creative as their hearing counterparts, yet who just happen to be deaf. It empowers a segment of society which, as a result of modern cell phone technology, is now able to transact business in the field—including running their own businesses, managing employees, and coordinating and overseeing projects via the simple method of text messaging. (And you thought only your teens used text messaging to chat with their friends in class.)


When Cell Phones Pose a Hazard

For all their positive attributes, when used irresponsibly, cell phones can cause real danger. Using a cell phone while driving—particularly when fumbling with its keypad, Talk, or End buttons, flipping it open, or holding it while chatting and driving with only one hand—can pose a serious hazard to driver and passengers, other motorists, and the totally unprotected (and often unsuspecting) pedestrian in the crosswalk who actually expects the driver heading her way to see and obey the stop sign when he reaches the corner.

Unfortunately, due to the distraction of the cell phone, this too often doesn't happen—and this is one reason the State of California passed a "hands-free cell phone while driving" law, which went into effect July 1, 2008. Beginning on that day, all cell phone users were (and are) required to use a hands-free cell phone setup—and after my personal experience with one such distracted driver, that wasn't soon enough for me.


A Distracted Driver Is a Dangerous Driver

As I stepped off the curb one sunny California day, I noticed a car approaching the intersection at a moderate rate of speed. I looked through the vehicle's windshield, preparing to make eye contact with the driver, as has always been my custom. With a couple of thousand pounds of metal between the driver and me, I've always felt a nagging need to make sure the driver whose vehicle I'm about the step in front of has noticed me.

(To be honest, I've never understood the people who step out in front of all manner of moving vehicles without so much as a glance in the direction of the metallic monster relentlessly bearing down on them. It's obvious that they believe that having the legal right of way will somehow protect them from danger. But, I always figure that living to see another day is far better than having them put on my gravestone, "She had the right of way.")

As I prepared to step in front of the vehicle, I could tell right away that something was wrong. Not only was the driver not looking at me, but he had a cell phone glued to his ear—and he was not slowing down. As the alarm bells began going off in my head, I had just enough time to jump back out of the way and barely avoided being hit by the inattentive driver, who braked suddenly when he realized what was happening and sheepishly shrugged his apology at me through the closed window. With a rather less than genial expression, I motioned the driver to go first. I wasn't about to step in front of his vehicle again.

Like most other tools that have the potential to make our lives better, cell phones can be used or abused. They can help and improve or distract, annoy, and even destroy. The choice is ours.

Help fight cell phone abuse: Please phone responsibly.

Thanks!
Jeanne


This post is my entry into the Word Sell Win Up to $500 Blogging About Cell Phone Users and Abusers! Contest.


Did you enjoy this post? Have any cell phone horror stories of your own to share? Or maybe you've seen a cell phone save a life or do some good. We'd love to hear your story!



Please note: If the StumbleUpon and other social bookmarking buttons aren't visible, please click the "Add Comments" link beneath this post. Thanks!



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Comments
25 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by Wilson Pon

December 5th 2008 08:17
Jeanne, the cell phone is also one of the main problem of getting brain cancer! So, if we don't want to become the victim of cancer, then we all should reduce the cell phone's use rate...

Comment by Jeanne Dininni

December 5th 2008 08:24
So, I've heard, Wilson!

That's definitely one good reason not to keep our cell phone "glued to our ear."

Thanks for the visit!
Jeanne

Comment by Brad Shorr

December 5th 2008 11:56
Hi Jeanne, Thank you for your comprehensive and highly insightful post! You raise a couple issues I never thought about. The impact of cell phones on the deaf community is a wonderful thing. The (figurative and literal) impact of cell phones on pedestrians is anything but. California pedestrians have always seemed casual by Chicago standards when it comes to stepping into the street, even a crowded one. In Chicago, I think the pedestrian's underlying assumption is that the cars aren't going to stop. Has the hands free law led to any improvement for you?

On a totally unrelated issue, I notice you use the phrase "interwoven web..." in your intro. It caught my eye because I've been toying with a post with that phrase in the title. But I keep wondering if "interwoven web" is redundant. Am I being overly scrupulous?

Comment by Jeanne Dininni

December 5th 2008 17:02
Brad,

I knew a young Deaf guy in college, when I was studying American Sign Language (just a few short years ago!) who ran his construction business by text messaging on his cell phone. (All the numbers had almost completely worn off his keypad!)

Haven't had any more encounters with distracted drivers since the law went into effect, but haven't been walking around downtown much, either. It is good to see so many people using the hands-free devices, though. Occasionally, I do see someone who isn't using one--which is a shame.

I used "interwoven web" as a reference to each individual cell phone network (i.e., Verizon, Cingular, AT&T, etc.) being interwoven into one larger cell phone network. (But, I must confess, I do love the term--and I have the feeling that most people wouldn't fault you for using it, even when you're referring to a single network. After all, it sounds great!)

Thanks for the opportunity to join the contest--and for your in-depth comment!

Jeanne

Comment by Mark Antony

December 6th 2008 11:29
Hi Jeanne,

Great post, all the very best of luck with the competition!

My Cell Phone came to good use the other day when my engine cut out on an icy road, growing dark, VERY narrow lane, and I had to call out breakdown. Of all the places to.....At least I got into a passing place, not too many on this lane so at least I was lucky, or it would have been VERY nasty..They got there in about 45 minutes, which I thought very good consdering.

I tend to find it irritating to see some people arranging phones at tables along with the cutlery, and on trains I always TRY, not to listen to anyone talking, but it can be hard! It's like so many things, taken in context, a great device, one of the most useful gadgets I have, but open to abuse.

Comment by Debbie Yost

December 6th 2008 15:38
I have to admit that I am guilty of being that other guy. I think in my mind I have to let others know I'm not just being annoying but it really IS an important call. I wouldn't be so inconsiderate if it wasn't. It's ridiculous logic and when I catch myslef doing it, I try to stop.

I also find it annoying with the person uses the speaker phone feature in public. It seems like they are trying to pull even more attention to themselves!

Great article. It made me think of a lot of things I hadn't before.

Comment by Anonymous

December 6th 2008 17:49
Hi Jeannie, cell phones in cars act more as a curse than a blessing. One needs to do everything possible to avoid the distractions that accompany these new amazing tools.

Good luck with your great entry!

Comment by Jeanne Dininni

December 7th 2008 01:18
Thanks, Mark!

An icy road, a narrow lane, and twilight create a real recipe for disaster! Thankfully you had your trusty cell phone to get you out of that spot! Glad everything worked out OK. Despite their annoyances--and sometimes dangers--cell phones certainly do come in handy at times like those!

Thanks for the visit and your good wishes for the contest! I'm keeping my fingers crossed! Winners will be announced Monday.

Till later,
Jeanne


Comment by Jeanne Dininni

December 7th 2008 01:32
Hi, Debbie!

I'm with you on using the speaker phone feature in public! If being subjected to one side of the conversation is bad, hearing both sides is so much worse! Those are the people who take the hands-free capability a little too far, because even hands-free operation doesn't require use of the speaker phone feature.

Obviously, the reason you feel the need to let other people know when your call is important is because you care enough to be aware of the times you might be inconveniencing others. I see that as a good thing!

Glad you liked the post!
Jeanne

Comment by Jeanne Dininni

December 7th 2008 01:39
Anonymous,

Very good point! Anything that causes driver distraction is a bad thing--no matter how helpful it may be at other times.

Thanks so much for cheering me on! Can't wait till Monday to find out who the contest winners will be!

Thanks for the visit!
Jeanne

P.S. It sure would be nice if you'd drop back by and leave your name--even if you leave it in the body of your comment! It's always nice to know who's wishing you well!

Comment by Robyn McMaster

December 7th 2008 01:43
Jeanne, I created a comment earlier today and when I posted, it said anonymous. Now that I received word from Orble that you responded, I see it is gone and there's no response from you. Oh well, let's try again and let that go.

I so agree that the distraction of the moment can cause an accident. Since the human brain can either focus on the cell and talking to someone or the road... it's better to keep your brains on the road!

Good luck with your entry!

Comment by Jeanne Dininni

December 7th 2008 01:55
Hi, Robyn!

I had a feeling it was you (since I saw your photo in the MyBlogLog widget). Don't like to jump to conclusions, though, so didn't say anything.

If you don't notice our earlier comments, try refreshing your browser. That often happens to me when I receive a comment notification from Orble. It may be an Internet Explorer anomaly. (Do you use IE, also?) I don't think it's Orble's software, because it's happened to me on other blogs, as well. I can see both your earlier comment and my reply to it (unless someone else has also left an anonymous comment).

Thanks again for your good wishes for the contest! Best wishes to you, as well!

Great to see you!
Jeanne


Comment by Robyn McMaster

December 7th 2008 03:25
Hi Jeannie, whew, we're past the problem and all is well.

That makes me feel good. Thanks for looking into the problem and giving more insights as to what you learned.

Comment by Jeanne Dininni

December 7th 2008 10:09
Robyn,

Glad we've got the problem worked out! I really enjoy reading your comments! (Have been looking forward to reading your contest entries, but haven't managed to make it over to BBB yet. Will visit and read your entries ASAP!)

Jeanne

Comment by AmyHuang

December 8th 2008 01:53
Hello! Sorry I haven't visited for a long time! I don't really like my mobile phone, only use it if I have to. I don't like to be too contactable - coz that takes away my personal time!

Comment by Robyn McMaster

December 8th 2008 02:39
Jeannie, I, too, had been busy and wanted to see what you were up to. It was thrilling to see that you, too, had composed an entry for Brad's contest.

Comment by Jeanne Dininni

December 8th 2008 07:00
Hi, Amy!

Great to see you! Believe me, I understand--life can be pretty hecitc sometimes. There are so many things we want to do--or have to do--that it's hard to find time for them all. I've really missed visiting all my favorite blogs lately, but my writing and editing jobs (along with my church volunteer work) have been keeping me quite busy lately.

Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts about mobile phones and personal time. That's a great point! Sometimes we really don't want to be at everyone's beck and call. But, that is one nice thing about mobiles: The caller ID feature lets us know who's calling, and we can then decide whether or not we're "available."

Thanks again for the visit!
Jeanne

Comment by Jeanne Dininni

December 8th 2008 07:17
Robyn,

It's very exciting, isn't it? I guess the drawing will be happening very soon--more specifically, tomorrow (California time) or today in many other parts of the U.S. and the world (including Australia, where Orble is located). If the only entries to this contest were those that were submitted to Word Sell, our odds of winning one of the eight prizes are really quite good, compared to most other contests.

It was a fascinating topic, as well--paving the way for many interesting posts!

Again, good luck!
Jeanne

Comment by moonglow

December 8th 2008 17:02
I have a cell phone, but it is reserved for emergencies only. Of course, I don't what good it would do me in an emergency, since I don't know how to use it!

Great post!!

Comment by Jeanne Dininni

December 8th 2008 17:18
Moonglow,

That's a really good point. It would probably be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the use of your cell phone by making a few test calls and checking out the phone's various features. You'll then be able to go on "auto pilot" during an emergency.

Waiting till an emergency occurs wouldn't really be wise, because that would definitely not be the optimal time to learn to use your cell phone. Emergencies are stressful enough without that added burden. And, of course, it's not just the stress--you might also be the only person available to summon help.

All that aside, it's a great idea to reserve your cell for emergencies. For most people, cell phones make it much too easy to make unnecessary phone calls, disrupting our own lives and those of the people we call far more than we should.

Thanks for the visit!
Jeanne

Comment by moonglow

December 8th 2008 19:15
I DO need to learn to use that awful phone!

I managed to call the power company once when the lights/old-fashioned phone lines went out...I had to use the instructional manual!

I don't mind cell phones...I just hate talking on ANY phone. Cell phones have saved many lives, I'm sure...but have claimed some, too.

Hope you win the contest!!

Comment by Jeanne Dininni

December 8th 2008 19:51
Moonglow,

It's a good sign that you've managed to use it once. If you've done that, you can do it again. But, brushing up certainly can't hurt. After all, during an emergency, you wouldn't have time to consult the instruction manual. [*soft smile*] It shouldn't take very long to figure out the basic functions. After that, making a call periodically so you won't forget how to use it would help you stay prepared for a potential emergency.

Thanks for your good wishes on the contest! Apparently the drawing isn't today, as I'd erroneously thought. The roundup post was published at Word Sell today, but the winners will be announced later this week. Definitely have my fingers crossed!

Thanks for stopping back by!
Jeanne

Comment by Anonymous

December 13th 2008 12:52
Jeanne,

The second of the posts you mentioned really hits the spot for me. I have always had a very timid nature, and too many times have let fear prevent me from taking appropriate risks and achieving my goals.

Interestingly, that post said that I should risk new experiences, and it mentioned skiing as an example. I happen to be going skiing in two weeks for only the second time in my life, so I suppose I am already implementing one of the suggestions.

Hopefully, I live through the experience!

Comment by Jeanne Dininni

December 13th 2008 19:50
Andrew (aka, Anonymous)*

I just love Ellen's post about fear.** It gives us some practical techniques we can use right now to help us overcome an emotion that always hinders us and too often prevents us from reaching our full potential.

I'm so glad you're finding Ellen's post helpful, though I can see that you were already putting its principles into practice before reading the post. That still makes it a timely post for you, though, since it confirms the rightness of your decision to squarely face your fears!

Have a wonderful time skiing! Be cautious, yet don't be afraid to believe that everything will work out fine! (We'd just love it if you'd report back to us in a few weeks on how your trip went.)

Thanks for the visit!
Jeanne

* When I first wrote this comment, I didn't realize your identity/link were included in your comment, since you came through as anonymous. My apologies! (I've since modified my reply to your comment.)

** I'm sure Ellen's post is the one you were referring to, though your comment was left on my cell phone post. (It's so easy to leave a comment on the wrong post; I've done it a few times myself!) If you'd like, we can copy/paste these comments onto the fear post and then delete them from this one. Let me know. Whatever you decide is fine. (If we do, we'll each have to copy/paste our own comments.)

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