I got my first cell phone on my sixteenth birthday (2008). It was a Motorola Razr, one of the top phones of its time. I was not sure what to do with this technology. I entered my home phone number, my older siblings’ home phone numbers, and my boyfriend’s number. I was very slow at sending text messages, and I only ever called my parents for rides. Within a year, I was sending nearly 1000 messages per month, and my dad had to upgrade my plan to unlimited text messaging. By 2010, I upgraded to an LG keyboard phone with more Internet capabilities. I would go on Facebook wherever I went. When I turned 19, I got a Blackberry phone and was introduced to smart phone technology. Now I am looking towards an iPhone, as I am familiar with the interface (my brother and dad each own one). I did a lot of growing up alongside the development of mobile technology.
Authors Campbell and Park (Social Implications of Mobile Telephony: The Rise of Personal Communication Society) discuss new coordination brought to light through mobile technologies: micro-coordination (dealing with logistics) and hyper-coordination (dealing with expressiveness). I experienced and continue to experience these implications as a young adult. For instance, before my first cell phone, making plans took more thought. (How will we meet? Where will we meet? Who is driving whom? At what time will we return?) Now, plans can be altered at the very last minute via a quick text message, and all parties (i.e. parents) can be similarly updated. Here’s a case scenario: My friends Jessica, Angela, Kristen, and I agree to meet at Boston Pizza. Kristen is late because she had to work. The rest of us decide we’d rather eat at Turtle Jack’s. I update Kristen via a text message, and she meets us at the new place. Mobile technology makes last-minute plans simple. This scenario refers to micro-coordination, changing time perception as we know it. If there was a crown for hyper-coordination, I would be the Queen. In my late teens, I developed a reliance on texting as a means to communicate my feelings to friends. I became so dependent on sharing information via text message that I found it increasingly difficult to have face-to-face conversations.
Campbell and Park refer to mobile communications as distracting from the present. Mobile conversations prevent successful coexistent face-to-face conversations. In texting situations, the third party can feel sad, or as though they are inadequate company. I have been on all ends of this; the person texting, the person being texted, and the person feeling neglected. When I’m the one texting, I don’t feel particularly guilty of anything- maybe this is because I grew up thinking this is okay. Cell phone etiquette didn’t exist when I was in elementary school (1997-2006). Similarly, cell phone conversations in public places can be incredibly annoying. I study and do homework in the university library, and nearly every time I go, I get stuck beside an inconsiderate person who is having a detailed phone conversation. I become subject to eavesdropping- oh the stories I hear! Readers, I do not want to hear about your relationships, lost wallet, or your night out at the bar. Okay, I admit I have digressed.
Gerard Goggin (Ubiquitous apps: politics of openness in global mobile cultures) stresses how the Internet is even more omnipresent through application technologies (as seen on iPhones). My family and I tried this out last summer while on vacation. We travalled out East, and in every province, we used my brother’s “Tim Horton’s” application to find the coffee shop wherever we were. Technology followed us, even through the most remote side roads and forest-lined highways.
Mobile technologies enable me to do many things I wouldn’t have even imagined six or seven years ago, but at the same time, I am positive I have lost a sense of the present along the way. Spending quality time with others in person has become very challenging- even loved ones get ignored when I see a text message from a friend flash on my phone. Applications, although they make travel adventures a lot easier to a large degree, almost get rid of the purpose of “vacation.” Aren’t vacations supposed to be for time away from technologies? On the aforementioned trip out East, I had to consistently check Brock Sakai for updates regarding an online course I had been taking. So much for quiet time, eh?