Phones affecting the Physical Contact and Interactions

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Technologies are presenting a constant change in the way humans transact their business and interact in this day and age. New ideas and devices are often making an effort to bring people nearer as well as simplify life. After the improvements of the third generations networks of the mobile phones and the accessibility, cell phones ceased to be a luxurious and became a necessity. The device stopped just being a device for making phone calls, but it also allowed customers to communicate via sending text messages to different people’s mobile phones. Communication and the forms of human interaction is a significant tenet of sociology. The use of cell phones makes the availability of humans to be present anywhere and at the moment. The ease of reaching someone with a cell phone without physical contact has changed the way humans interact and communicate with the social settings.

Main Body

The concept of having the ability to be accessible at anytime and anywhere has had positive and negative outcomes in the social setting. The folks of the older generations despise the culture common among the youth of taking out cell phones in public transportation, classrooms and restaurants. Excessive use of the cell phones in public places typically elicits an undesirable response when used in close contact with other people. Such actions may be construed as disturbance or encroachment into other people’s personal space especially if the cell phone user does not recognize the presence of others. Social interaction implies that the existence of others should always be acknowledged and respected while engaging in a conversation with someone else. Unfortunately, cell phones have abated the invasion of other people’s personal spaces. Cell phone users have had undesirable behaviors talking loudly on their phone while in public without being considerate of the presence of others near them. Such actions are seen s rude and may result in the alienation of an individual from others due to fear of being reprimanded.

A tendency that is gaining more traction is the present absences. The present absence is a concept whereby the presence of an individual in a social set up changes irrespective of their physical presence- such people just have partial attendance. Whenever their phones ring, such individuals excuse themselves to respond to their calls or text messages even when they are in a meeting or conversation with other people. The individual or who was taking part of the discussion before the interruption of the cell phone may often feel the sense of being without company. Such lonely feelings occasioned by the sudden disruption of a face to face conversation by a cell phone may result to social anxiety such as resentment and ill feelings towards the person who responded to the cell phone (Humphreys 810).

Changes in time and space through the easy accessibility and use of cell phones has altered the manner in which people interact with family, friends, and colleagues. With the convenience of being accessible at any time and any place, there has been a growing concern that individuals are becoming more reliant on their phones at the expense of physical meetings and interactions. Cell phones have made it easy for individuals to maintain a seamless connection with anyone at any time in their social network thereby reducing the chances of a face to face encounter (Humphreys 811).

The use of cell phones has affected the way people communicate physically because it has eliminated some aspects of communication such as visual cues. The physical presence of another person when communicating allows the use of verbal and nonverbal cues. Therefore, connection using cell phones does not allow the person on the other end to catch a glimpse of non-verbal cues being expressed by the caller on the other end. Thus, such remote enabled way of communication can lead to misinformation because some people understand better listening and observing the non-verbal gestures (Humphreys 819).

Further, cell phones have made it difficult to communicate with individuals who have hearing defects because they cannot sustain a conversation using the mobile phones. Therefore, cell phone users often take long to interact with people who are not on their phone book, because of the inconvenience of having to physically avail themselves to the places where they are to initiate a conversation. Folks with hearing defects belong to that group whose conversation with others gets significantly curtailed because of their inability to communicate via the phone.

Despite the social interaction rules forbidding eavesdropping, interviews and observations suggest that eavesdropping has become a common behavior among individuals whose partners are having a cell phone conversation. Majority of the respondents confessed to having listened to the conversation of their spouses or friends. By pretending that someone is not listening to a private conversation with other people over the phone, the respondents are acknowledging that they are violating the privacy rules of social interactions. For quite long, people have been advised against listening to conversations that they are not involved in (Humphreys 818).

The use of cell phones has also enhanced the use of three-way interactions. An individual can interact with someone through the phone and at the same time chart with a physical partner. The success of the conversation of that nature depends on the ability of the cell phone user to balance between the physical partner and the caller on end. In most circumstances, the conversation will be skewed towards the phone caller than the physical partner. That kind of bias towards cell phone conversation at the expense of physical conservation shows the level of dependency on phone conversations (Humphreys 821).

Foer explains the dilemma that one of the main characters in his article, “How not to be alone” went through when he was in limbo whether to assist the girl who was crying over the phone next to him or just respect the personal space and boundaries between them. Intervening would have enabled the lady to ease the pain. However, it might even have exacerbated the situation of the girl. It was a difficult thing for him to intervene and equally painfully difficult to ignore the situation and retreat to his phone and start scrolling the names on the contact list. Foer acknowledges that technology celebrates the importance of connectedness but at the same time encourages retreat.

The main character concedes that despite being fond of the phone, it did not make him evade the human connection. Despite the empathy towards the girl, he ultimately made the choice of ignoring the grieving lady quite easy because of the fondness of his phone. He acknowledges that his daily and routine use of technology has shaped and altered him into someone who can easily forget others. Just like the flow of water gradually creates a curve on the rock, the personhood and behavior of an individual is shaped by the flow of habits (Foer). Therefore, excessive use of the cell phones, will widen the social gap that exists when people maintain physical interactions with each other.

Works Cited

Corbett, Alexia. "Cellular Phones Influence (s) and Impact (s) on Social Interactions and Interpersonal Relationships." University of New Hampshire. Downloaded on http://www. unh. edu/sociology/media/pdfs-journal2009/Corbett2009. pdf (2009):1-11

Foer, Jonathan Safran. “How Not to Be Alone.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 June 2013,

Humphreys, Lee. "Cellphones in public: social interactions in a wireless era." New media & society 7.6 (2005): 810-833.

July 24, 2021


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