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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cellular World

Cell phones. Are they an addiction or a necessity? We all know that something so relatively new to the human race cannot really be a necessity. A lot of us still remember life without them. Logically, we know know that we can exist without them. However, there is no physical part or substance of a cell phone upon which to become dependent. So cell phones must fall into the category of "psychological addiction." About psychological addiction, I found this: "Psychological addiction refers to the lack of willpower in fighting against a compulsive need for something." I had to disagree with this statement. It seems to me a psychological addiction would not refer to the lack of willpower to fight a compulsive need, but to the compulsive need itself.

So what drives us to be addicted to our cell phones? What causes this "compulsive need?"

Let me draw from another known item. The general consensus (though still vehemently debated) is that marijuana does not ignite a physical addiction, but it can cause a psychological addiction because of the way it makes you feel. People can become addicted to that sense of relaxation, euphoria, and peace that pot provides. So what feelings do cell phones provoke? To be honest, I could not think of any particular feeling that having my cell phone with me causes. Feature-filled though it may be, my phone has/does nothing for me to be addicted to. It's just there, like it's part of me. It's supposed to be there. This leads me to what does cause feelings to crop up, NOT having my phone. I'm not as bad as I once was, but  I can tell you what it's like. Just leaving the phone somewhere, whether it be on the bedside table or a table at Red Lobster, panic overwhelms you. The heart starts racing and breathing becomes quick and strained; the worst hyperventilate. This is not specific to business people whose livelihood is on the phone. This is your everyday average person. Generally, during the time it takes to go back for the phone, nothing is missed. No one called. No one texted. All is well. Why the panic? The phone must provide us with a sense of comfort that we do not even realize...until the moment it's gone. They have become expensive, high-tech security blankets capable of making calls and locating wi-fi hot spots. How did that happen?

I guess there is just so much available to us so easily. Social media comes with us now. We can keep up with all our friends, all the time, even the ones we don't really like. In case of emergency, be it a life-threatening accident or a stain on your date-night shirt, cells enable you to reach whoever you need at the push of a button. If you suddenly want to remember how many feet are in a mile (5280'/mile) or find out when the black bear mating season is (May to July, sometimes as late as August), the internet is a quick tap of the touchscreen away.

A child with a security blanket may not be able to tell you why they keep it with them or how it makes them feel. They'll simply say, "I like it." As adults we are much more articulate, capable of explaining the logical reasons for keeping a phone with us, but the compelling need is the same and just as unexplainable. So are we addicted to cell phones? Nah, we just like them.

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