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Matthieu Miossec

Doctoral Student - Genetic Medecine (Congenital Heart Disease),

TEDCRED 100+

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We really need to talk about the bad behavior cell phones are causing

While technology has been a social facilitator at times, it wouldn't surprise anyone to hear that at other times it can lead to seriously antisocial or asocial behavior. This however is often identified as such and therefore discouraged in some form.

The specific problem with cell phone (and in particular smart phone) usage is that not only does it lead to similar antisocial behavior, that behavior seems to be more widely accepted than it objectively ought to be. One might, for example, never really question the priority with which a cell phone user interacts with other people, leaving long ackward silences in real-life conversations to engage in a text exchange. One might also never question the level of appropriatness of cell phone usage in certain situations. Do cell phones really need to be on in cinemas (silent or not), at certain social gatherings? My opinion on the matter is that cell phones today go much beyond their intended purpose, becoming a depency in some (the need to have it on at all times, the need to answer texts asap). Smart phones make things worse, providing a whole arsenal of features that make it more irresistible to take out your phone when its not needed for its intended purpose. Is there a need to confront bad behavior stemming from cell phone usage? Is it essentially leading to impoverished face-to-face interactions?

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    Apr 1 2012: Cell phone usage while driving is a hazard and illegal in some states. As this is a matter of safety with indisputable externalities (side effects with negative impact on people other than the cell phone user), governments can legislate in this area. Hospitals post signs restricting use, because the externality is that cellphone use can interfere with medical equipment that is essential for patients.People with whom I am socially or professionally connected know when I will not pick up my phone. For example, I will not answer my phone when I am engaged with people face-to-face or am already speaking with someone by phone. Courteous cellphone behavior begins with setting boundaries with our own contacts. I think it would be perfectly appropriate for a place of business to post a sign asking that people respect the needs of others using the space. Libraries often have such guidelines, for example.
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    Apr 1 2012: Yes you're right Mat

    Alot of my friends kept pestering me to upgrade my old nokia to an Iphone as they couldn't send me anything,i kept replying send it to my email as my job as a contractor is not a job one has a piece of delicate tech on them,i've seen smart phones falling 20 stories or more.Poor phone.

    Unless it's job related or you're a business person it's there for only emergencies but yes i've seen accidents on our roads where the phone was the cause so we outlawed phone use while driving except no one is listening and still it's causing accidents.

    What i wonder is "Do you need to know what the FB's are doing all the time" or "Whats going on with your twitter"
    I would call it an addiction rather than antisocial behaviour.
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      Apr 1 2012: Ken.....yes, I would call it an addiction also.

      Hey, and better the phone, and not the person falling 20 stories....Ouch!
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        Apr 2 2012: My mum worked at a lolly factory when i was three,she use to bring back and store boxes and bags of the stuff for events,fundraisers,social events,you can imagine a bunch of kids with that around them.I don't blame her but that's how i got my addictive persona from.

        One can tell when another can't do without.I can't have lollies or chocolate biscuits around me and when txting first arrived on the scene i did exactly what matthiue described in his Question.I don't use the phone when i'm driving,i found it to hard to concentrate and kiwi drivers are the worst in the world.
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          Apr 3 2012: I knew your insight came from personal experience...and, kiwi drivers are not the worst in the world.....don't be silly.

          Thank you for not talking and driving.....
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    Apr 1 2012: Disabling cell phones in a localized area is not difficult. Like we have done with smoking we can establish Phone Free Zones. Then I would have to listen to my wife at dinner, or she to me.
  • Apr 1 2012: We do need to talk! No matter what technology, good human relations are always appropriate.

    A few years ago I witnessed a man talking loudly on his cell phone at an airport boarding gate waiting area as many people were seated there and it was mostly quiet otherwise. What a rude person this guy!

    Many more years ago, before cell phones, a friend told me there were no ladies and gentlemen anymore. We could say there are even fewer now.

    We are so busy with our gadgets and schedules we don't have time to smell the flowers of life and sense the best in persons. Impoverishing relationships surely cannot be good.

    So, what shall we do to change for better?

    Peace,
    MK
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      Apr 1 2012: I think a good place to start would be to collectively establish some cell phone usage ethics so that current behavior no longer is within the norm and raise awareness about them.
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        Apr 1 2012: 1. Why is current behavior unethical?
        2. Who determines what is ethical?
        3. How is it determined?
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          Apr 1 2012: 1. You may set up ethics around some subject without the excluded behavior being unethical.
          2 & 3. Indeed who does with anything? It would be wrong to assume that this question only applies in this instance though. Who is to say that any particular ethics commitee is always the best thing to decide on what is ethical or not? All is relative. At the end of the day we can only agree on what's part of our wiring or established in our time (and is that even the right set of ethics to have?). But it's a conversation worth having, we could all do with thinking about it.
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    Apr 3 2012: We need to nip it in the bud. I as a high school teacher I am constantly told by students and their parents that it is vitaly important that the child is contactable in case of emergency. However in all the 13 years I have taught there is yet to be an emergency, the phone has became a symbol of importance "I'm so important I must be contactable at all times" and thay learn this from parents at 10 years of age. The great irony is I'm pretty sure if there was an emergency you would prefer that your child was informed by an adult in a quiet office rather than in a room full of hyperactive teens.
  • Apr 8 2012: The intended purpose of cell phones:

    Is to keep people from listening earnestly and sincerely to their own inner thoughts. By this I mean Truth that lies, sits or is in someway hidden and buried from their consciousness, but nonetheless, seriously needs to contact them.
    And keeps trying to.

    It used to be more common for people to light up a cigarette when they began to think, realized they were thinking, and became so uncomfortable that they blotted out most of their thoughts with a fag.

    Next, came the Walkman so that one could go anywhere and listen to music, tapes, whatever, anything but their inner self, the one that keeps calling them (no pun intended), keeps trying to get their attention because it has some very important things to tell them.

    After a time, it began to appear (and sound) as though music was coming 'out of their heads' rather than going in.

    Then the cell phone, a Blackberry, and now smart phones so that twiddling the thumbs has made a big comeback in the world.

    "Let's see. Is this thing still working?" Flicks and slides thumbs and fingers down. "Yeah, good. Let's see if it still works up." Flicks and slides thumbs and fingers up. "Great! It does."

    "Now let's try right," flicks and slide to the right
    "Now left,"..................flicks and slide to the left

    "Good. It still works."

    I know that when I drive, I make it a point to keep both hands firmly on the phone.

    It makes people feel busy, not think, and spend their time 'twiddling their thumbs' in the updated version, remaining docile and subservient.
  • Apr 6 2012: My wife was in a restaurant the other day, and someone at the next table not only had a cell conversation going, but she had it on "speaker" so the whole restaurant could hear both sides of the dialogue! It's hard to carry on your own conversation, which is an integral part of a good meal, when the constant buzz of someone else's conversation intrudes. Maybe the waiter should have intervened? As to cell phones in movie theaters, the ones we go to here in Arizona have an appeal at the beginning of each film for all people to put their phones on vibrate, and not to use them while the show is on. Most people don't think of those around them.
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    Apr 1 2012: Matthieu, great question. The fact that the talk you link this conversation to was given three years ago shows that this is a problem that is not going away, if anything, it is getting worse.

    It is not a problem associated with the young.....but alot of elderly cell phone users terrorize patients in waiting rooms all over the world....chatting away about nonsense out loud....of course many are short of hearing....but even more scary is seeing them drive and text....YIKES!

    Here is a link to a google talk on the subject given by Eckhart Tolle of all people....Please watch it, it is invaluable.

    http://youtu.be/qE1dWwoJPU0

    My solution: Be the change you want to see.....Because surely, who can control people?
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    Apr 1 2012: I agree that the instances with extreme consequences should be addressed, e.g. cell phones on the roads.

    As for the angle of social behavior, I don't care. People can socialize how they choose to.