Over the last couple of years I have done an informal survey over the web. This survey is not scientific, but it is telling, and over 361 students between the ages of 15-22 and provided these results:

1. During the day your cell phone is:

On my body (belt or purse included): 96%

Within reach of my outstretched arm at all times: 3% In the same room: 1%

2. What percentage of time is your cell phone in ring versus vibrate mode?

Ring: 94%

Vibrate: 6%

3. When you sleep at night your cell phone is:

On my body (in the bed with you counts): 93%

Within reach of my outstretched arm at all times: 4%

In the same room: 3%

Here are a few quick quirks I noticed:

A). Students see their cell phones as an accessorial extension of themselves. I find that a little sad and a lot depressing.

B). Students call their cell phones their “phones” and not their “cell phones.” When I ask what kind of “phone” they have at home plugged into a wire and I hear “the old people phone” a lot.

C). Over 90% of the students surveyed either wear or sleep with their cell phones, yet over 90% keep their cell phones on ring instead of vibrate. Why? Why must we hear your ringtones? Be discreet! Have grace in the palm of your hand instead of a crying, whistling, rant!

D). I can’t believe anyone would sleep with a cell phone! You are not that important! Get a life and then get to sleep!

E). When I teach, the first rule in my classroom is to “turn off your cell phone.” 100% of the time that phrase is interpreted to mean “put your cell phone on vibrate.” In a quiet classroom like mine a vibrating cell phone can be just as annoying as a ringing cell phone.

When I explain I want them to “cut the power on their cell phones” I am met with horror and hatred in the same expression! The looks are delicious. The ensuing quiet is extraordinary. Many of them have no idea how to “turn off” their phones because they are always “on” and to comply they end up removing the battery.

I am not a phone person. I have a phone. I am not a cell phone person.

I have a cell phone. I am not an instant message person. I do not have any instant message software installed. I prefer email over any sort of phone. I prefer email over instant messaging. Cell phones are a necessary evil. Instant messages only bedevil.

Email allows me to respond in the best and fastest possible manner for both of us.


  1. Our church, unfortunately, has to have a repeating notice on the screens requesting that people put their cell phones on ‘stun’ during services. However, not everyone sees this because they straggle in late or don’t pay attention or don’t care. Sometimes a phone will ring in the middle of service and the pastor, a real funny but direct sort of guy, will say, “Would you like us to wait while you take that?”
    When someone gets a call on the bus and sits there jawing away at top voice level (get a clue: enclosed space, in the company of complete strangers, your private conversation), I want to get off at the next stop even if it means waiting another hour to get back on. What would be so wrong with, “Hey, I’m on the bus, can I call you back when we get to the station?”
    You got me started…

  2. Well those are some valid points and I might look at you in a horrified manner as well when you ask everybody to turn the cell phone off but I do know how to turn mine off lol. I keep mine on my person and during work it’s on vibrate or if I’m somewhere where it’s really loud and I know I won’t be able to hear it. I sleep with my cell on the night stand plugged into the wall socket. I still call it a cell phone even though I use it more than my land line probably because I know it’s going to be someone I actually might want to talk to.
    I have instant messanging and use all the platforms. I prefer email over the phone except at work because I don’t have time to sit there and read the blatherings which aren’t really all that important, hence I usually disregard it unless someone calls me saying they sent me something.

  3. David,
    Maybe it is an INTJ thing, but I absolutely dislike to talk on the phone. I will do it when necessary. I carry a cell phone for emergencies. The only person that I call or who calls me is my wife.
    I would much rather talk to someone face to face or send an email. My cell is always on vibrate and gets turned off when I’m at home, unless I am expecting a call.
    That is why they invented voice mail, anyways. I don’t believe that I hae ever used instant messenger except when playing online computer games and them only to taunt the other players.

  4. Paula — Ugh! I hate rude people and a cell phone demands manners. The reason people yell over the cell phone is because they cannot hear the other person, not because they want to be heard. I try to avoid sitting or standing next to someone who is shouting into a phone. If I’m stuck, I’ll create a pretend conversation on my phone where I laugh out loud a lot and when they give me a nasty look that I’m making too much noise I just sit there and smile back at them. 🙂
    hterry — If you miss a call is that a bad thing? Do you like Voice Mail or not? Do you screen your cell phone calls or do you blindly answer any time it beckons you? I can see the advantage to instant messaging and I know one day I will have to install it but for now I like the quiet.
    Kev! — It may be an INTJ thing! I love Voice Mail and if you call me, that’s what you’ll get and I’ll call you back later only if I can’t answer you in email instead. 🙂 I also prefer one on one conversation in person. I installed an IM client before but set it to “always offline” or something so I wouldn’t have to be interrupted while I was working and then I realized what’s the point of having it on if I’m always “away?” 🙂

  5. David,
    I miss calls during the day just because I don’t answer them at work but I check the number to make sure it’s not from someone that might be an emergency. Voice mails good, that’s where they all end up going to anyways when I don’t answer. I’ll usually answer my cell over the land line almost immediately. I screen my land line calls every single time especially when they say out of area as I despise talking to solicitors which I still get calls from even though I’m on the do not call list.
    Paula has a good point to when your in an enclosed space and screaming on your cell phone. If I can’t hear the other end of my conversation I’ll usually tell them I’ll call em back. I don’t get why some people think yelling is going to make the connection any better. :/

  6. I too prefer email over anything else. The only 2 people I regularly call on my cell is my boyfriend or my mom. I hate using the phone. Although I don’t have a regular phone only a cell…we can’t afford to have both.

  7. Hiya muse!
    If I knew I could reach the person I am calling I would be more inclined to call. Returning calls these days means talking to Voice Mail and that just makes the Möbius strip go ’round and ’round. 🙂
    Cell phones will replace hardline phones on a mass basis in five years. We’re going without wires everywhere and that’s generally a good thing.

  8. Nothing annoys me more than to get into a car with someone who is on a cell phone. When I go out to dinner with my mother she picks me up from my father’s house and is quite often on the phone when I enter the car, and still on the phone when we get off at our destination. There can be no more frustrating car ride, trust me.
    Cell phones, like any other communication device, are merely tools. Unfortunetly, because of the rapid pace movement of technology, society has yet to widely adopt codes of behavior or standards of ettiquete when it comes to cell phones. One such code may be that unless its an emergency, speaking on the cell while sitting cheek to cheek with someone next to you on a bus (where neither one of you can get up and go elsewhere) is rude. Another such courtesy may be whenever you enter an academic building, a meeting, a theater, you shouldn’t have to be asked to turn off your cell phones (or at least turn off their alert functions, though you can still have the phone “on” technically to record incoming phone calls in memory), it should be done automatically as a sign of respect and decency.
    I keep the phone on me when I go to bed, but this time it would fall on the shoulders of the caller to show courtesy by not calling me at a late hour, again unless its an “emergency”. At all steps in the game, the problem is that individuals are slow to apply their rules of ettiquete to a new medium, or perhaps it points to a greater problem, the declining use of ettiquete, respect, and decency, between individuals in general.

  9. Hi Justin —
    Gosh, I feel for you when you’re in the car with your mother and she prefers a cell phone conversation to your live company. I am always amazed at people who answer their cell phones in the middle of a conversation with me. I ask them if they are expecting more calls and if they are, I suggest we meet at another time. If they are not expecting another call then the dare is on them to answer the call in mid-conversation again.
    You remind me of a time when I was an undergrad at UNL and I was having a meeting with Dr. Charles Stubblefield, one of my favorite and best English Professors. He was a jovial Southern gentleman caught in the tines of the Midwest.
    Dr. Stubblefield and I were talking about Mark Twain in a private conversation in his office and his phone rang. Now this was back when a phone sounded like a phone. His phone was the really old kind with a metal bell and not a phony electric ringer that pretended to be a bell.
    He let that phone ring and ring and ring during our conversation. It was louder than the two of us.
    I finally asked him if he wanted to take a moment to answer his phone and he said, “No, I’m talking to you now. They’ll call back later if it’s important.”
    Well, this was in the days before Voice Mail so the phone continued to ring and ring for an entire hour and we carried on our conversation pausing every few seconds to let the phone ring.
    It was completely surreal and everlasting and I think that’s where I learned to value the immediate and the now: If you’re in person, you command my attention while those who choose to virtually touch me can wait.
    Every time I hear an old fashioned phone ring I am taken back to that meeting and I am filled with warmth knowing, for one moment at least, I was more important than a phone call.

  10. et a cat? et a cat? why would anyone eat a cat? 🙂
    Hey, David, I thought of you this morning when I had breakfast and I was lightly buttering my perfectly browned Toooassst! (I know that’s off-topic, but you’ll forgive me, ’cause I’m yer favorite deputy.)

  11. Hi David, hi all,
    I’m a young one (22) and I absolutely hate cell phones. As an INTJ, back in the days when cell phones weren’t so prolific I used to hate talking on a landline and very much preferred talking face to face, I still do prefer to talk face to face since words only tell half the story, and body language tells the other half.
    However nowadays I find myself faced with friends who would die if parted with their cell phone. I do have a cell phone myself, but I have refused to change my principle with phones of any sort; if I don’t answer the phone it simply means I am unavailable, call back later. As a testament to my dislike of cell phones I only got mine a year ago, after finally caving in to everyone always bugging me about not having one. However they (the ones insisting I get a cell phone) have come to realise that it doesn’t matter that I have a cell phone as many a time I havn’t answered my cell phone, because I’m either busy with something, talking to someone face to face, or am no where near my cell phone.
    I do know how to turn my cell off, and find myself doing it quite frequently, mostly through a desire for peace. However I must say that I am not a fan of email as I prefer to communicate with people in real time, and nothing will ever beat face to face communication. One of the effects of cell phones I find is that everyone is in such a rush nowadays, and they don’t slow down to appreciate the quieter side of life. It really is no wonder that people are so stressed today; they feel obligated (because of the ‘reach you anywhere 24/7’ mentality brought on by cell phones) to have to keep up with everything and everyone all the time.
    People need to remember that a cell phone is a convenience, not an obligation!

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