Cell Phones

Grace Rehaut, Staff Writer

Walking down the hall on any given day here at PV High, you are guaranteed to bump into at least one oblivious student, traipsing along while looking down at his or her phone, completely immersed in something other than staying out of your way.
The 21st century is the era of technology and today’s teenagers do their part to keep the trend alive. Sea Kings are, simply put, always on their phones. But as we become further sucked into the digital world that our phones have to offer, are we further distancing ourselves from the real world?
Whether it’s in front of a locker, under a desk, or in line in the bathroom, students at PV are constantly pulling out their phones and tuning out from the present moment. People are so withdrawn into their phones that it sometimes seems no one is even talking to each other anymore. Our language is being disintegrated into text slang, our teachers are growing frustrated with students texting and not paying attention in class, and some students are becoming completely oblivious to what is happening around them. If you are failing to see the problem here, then, well – I guess all the texting has really started to go to your brain.

I’d like to think my sister Miranda and I have mastered a good balance between our phones and real life. When we’re together, I never hesitate to remind her to get off her cell and be in the moment. She does the same for me. We may be brash, but we don’t ignore each other and we certainly don’t look as silly as two people sitting together at a table while glued to their individual cell phones.

That isn’t to say I find a problem with using one’s phone for practical purposes. I once had the pleasure of eating lunch at a restaurant in Beverly Hills next to a table at which Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak, co-stars of the NBC comedy The Office, were also eating. Naturally, as a big fan, I stared more than was probably polite. Here’s what I noticed: Mindy and B.J. divided their time together equally between talking and texting. They would talk, have a nice conversation, and then tacitly pull out their phones and shoot off a few messages. After that, they would start the cycle all over again.

Maybe I was just star-struck, but I saw nothing wrong with this. First of all, their method of switching off between real life and their phones was clever. But second of all, what they were doing on their phones was clearly business rather than pleasure. Mindy and B.J. are busy people. Mindy just put out an amazingly funny autobiography, and B.J. has long been an important co-producer of The Office. They have things to do, and while they still make time to go out and get lunch together, they understand that they will both have to take occasional breaks to check their emails and texts.

Many teenagers, on the other hand, are not using their phones to accomplish anything productive. They divide their time between responding to mundane texts, checking facebook for the umpteenth time, and playing games. I don’t see the point.

For example, it is a pet peeve of mine when people confess that they never check their email. This is just proof that most people are accomplishing no good on their cell phones. Don’t lie to me – I have an iPhone too. I know how easy it is to set up an email account and receive instant updates. I will respond to your email just as fast as I will respond to your text, and I’m not ashamed of it. My guess is that too many Sea Kings are too busy frittering away time on other apps, like Facebook, to do anything as valuable as read their email.

Speaking of which, a new app that is becoming as popular and time-sucking as Facebook is Instagram. For those who are unaware, Instagram is essentially a blog site in which users post highly edited pictures they have taken in their daily lives.  When I made the mistake of downloading the app for a brief few days, I saw some pictures that were good – and others that were downright junk. I constantly hear people complaining about their desire to get more followers on Instagram. Here’s my advice: get off the app and stop pretending your 8 MP iPhone camera and mediocre pictures are anything worth applauding. I’ll gladly admit that I’m not a good photographer and I will just as easily say the same thing about most of my peers. Instead, do your homework. Read a book. Say hi to that person sitting next to you in class whom you are ignoring while glued to your phone. You may not win any new followers on Instagram, but you may have actually made a human connection.

Also, don’t even get me started on people using their phones to tune out and listen to music. Nobody should have to repeat something they have said multiple times just because you are listening to punk rock at full volume. Your poor ears are beleaguered, and so is everyone else.

My opinion on this matter is probably unpopular and may seem harsh, but don’t take it personally. After all, if you made it this far, you have demonstrated that unlike most people these days, you are capable of getting off your phone and committing to doing something more valuable with your time — like reading this article. As text slang might go: gratz.