Turn off the cell phones

It has gotten increasingly worse in the past couple of years &

our dependency on cellular telephones. The British call them "mobiles" we call them "cells," and you can call them whatever you like as long as one thing is understood &

they are a distraction.

There was once a time when we made our phone calls before leaving the house and we checked our messages upon returning. If we needed to make a call while out, we would dig for change in the bottom of our purses or scavenge loose quarters out of the seats of our cars, that is no longer the case.

Not only are we able to make calls anytime of the day from wherever we are, we can make phone calls at excruciatingly inappropriate times, like during class, distracting those around us while simultaneously distracting ourselves.

In marches the ability to text, squashing the last bit of phone etiquette, which was feebly hanging on, begging to be implemented. Texting is increasingly gaining popularity among the population, because unlike the phone calls, where one needs to excuse his or her self or step outside, one is able to text anywhere &

including a classroom where the professor is leading a very important discussion about material covered on an exam, for example. I cannot sit through a single class without noticing someone glancing at the latest text received, their fingers moving with remarkable speed and dexterity across those tiny buttons. Obviously, the frantic, urgent messages about dinner meetings, parties, what happened last night and love notes from their significant others are taking priority over whatever presides in the physical moment at hand. Inward, I start seething at the idea of so many people consumed with their phones.

Some professors have started to write cell phone rules into their syllabus, but not nearly enough. In one class I took, the student signs a contract at the beginning of the term stating that if one's cell phone goes off, or is seen during class, that student will be omitted from the class immediately and accept an 'F' for the term. I did not see a single cell phone all term. More teachers should think about this policy. This same teacher did not use PowerPoint either, but chose to lecture by writing notes on the white board, not allowing students to "space off" because the notes would not be available later that night online. PowerPoint and the implementation of such "learning tools," while convenient, render us awfully indolent.

Just like the invention of "spell check" makes my generation negligent spellers, the increasing dependency on cell phones, texting and iPods tends to cloud up our focus. We miss out on casual human interaction. Those preoccupied with their phones or iPods may seem unapproachable and, because of their absorption in their chosen distractive device, may feel as though they do not need to acknowledge anyone around. These devices are changing the way humans have communicated for thousands of years.

Countless is the number of times I have been in conversation with or attended a class with someone who rudely picks up their phone or checks for a text without giving it a second thought.

It is as though we have no privacy. We are scared to be without our phones in case we miss a call. In case we need to get ahold of someone. Heaven forbid we find ourselves alone, for a moment, what would we do? The distraction our cell phone poses is changing the way we communicate in our world and behave in an educational environment.

Let's not create dependent cell phone zombies, but independent, clear-headed and quick thinkers. We are supposed to be progressive, college-educated intellectuals after all. Let's start behaving that way.

is a student at Southern Oregon University studying communication, video production and creative writing. You can learn more about her at .

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