Twenty years ago, nobody had a cell phone except business people who didn’t mind carrying around a second briefcase. Ten years ago, cell phones easily could have been utilized by home builders as substitute bricks.
Today, cell phones are not luxuries anymore – they are socially-made necessities, portable secretaries and sleek, shiny, big-screened best friends.
Cell phones go everywhere with their owners and they know everything about their owner’s life, even the deepest, darkest secrets that their carrier’s own mother does not know. Cell phones know everything that happens, as soon as it happens.
Cell phones are the ultimate authority in all things – weather, game scores, reality television moments, hotly disputed trivia or the highlights of last night’s reading assignment. The cell phone does it all, a savior in the digital age.
So with everything one ever wanted in a close companion, a cell phone can be difficult to part with. In fact, a recent survey of 1,000 people by marketing agency 11mark resulted in a rather pathetic glimpse into cell phone culture in America.
Some of the highlights of the survey include the startling statistics that 75 percent of the population has used a cell phone while on another technological marvel of the twentieth century: the toilet. A full 91 percent of Americans (projected by the survey) aged between 28 and 35 have committed the social crime.
Twenty-five percent of Americans will not go to the bathroom without their phone, but 63 percent have answered calls and 41 percent have called someone else. Twenty percent of males and 13 percent of females deem it a professional enough arena to have participated in at least one conference call from the commode.
Using the cell phone in the bathroom is one of those topics, like washing one’s hands after going to the restroom, that the average conversationalist avoids because socio-cultural standards in America dictate clearly what the guidelines are for the situation. These guidelines lead most to assume talking on the phone just does not happen in such a personal setting.
But as with washing hands and talking on the phone in the restroom, people will consistently break with accepted behavior if they believe they can get away with it.
The etiquette of cell phone use was not something that had to be taught. By transferring basic manners and proper, polite social interactions to technology and the cell phone format, it ought to be easy to glean how one should and should not use the little mobile marvel.
Unfortunately, now it seems the borderline question regarding cell phone use at dinner is not where the confusion stops. Now the question of cell phone use in bathrooms, and not just the sink or mirror area, but the very private stall area, has actually become a point of debate, a sad fact in and of itself.
A solid rule of thumb to follow? Until it becomes a commonly accepted practice to invite friends, family and colleagues into the bathroom stall to continue a conversation while business is being taken care of, do not bring the cell phone to the throne.
And just one final shot of common sense – by using a mobile device on the john the number of germs being added to the phone and to one’s hands and face grows exponentially. Even biology is saying to hold off on Words with Friends for five minutes every now and then.
Allana Wooley is a freshman anthropology and history double major from Marble Falls.