Cell phone use could cause of tardiness

Cellular phones were created to be a boon to society, but recent research suggests that they are contributing to more and more people being late for appointments and other meetings.

In a recent New York Times article, it was revealed that society is starting to become accepting, or at least tolerant, of tardiness related to cell phone use.

Day care centers reported normally punctual parents being late to pick up their children and psychiatrists stated that patients were late arriving to their appointments, both instances of tardiness due to cell phone use.

In the article, anthropologist Robbie Blinkoff from the Baltimore think tank Context-Based Research Group explained the duality of the cell phone.

“The cell phone is positioned as something making you more spontaneous, more efficient,” Blinkoff said. “If you turn that on its head, it’s also about allowing you to be more lazy.”

SHSU associate professor of sociology Doug Constance who specializes in globalization issues and said the issue is a result of a social issue known as “compression of time and space.”

“What this does is allow you to compress time and expand space,” Constance said. “You no longer have to wait to use a phone, and you no longer have to wait to be in a certain place to make a phone call.”

Constance said that before the advent of cell phones, people were more constrained with their schedules and made more of an effort to make appointments on time.

“Now we don’t feel we have to leave a large amount of time in case we’re late,” he said.

The explosion of communication technology like cell phones and the Internet in the mid-1990s heralded what sociologists have called the “third industrial revolution.” Constance said in post-modern times, many people seek more instant gratification and are more willing to use such technology.

“Often the very last thing students do before entering my classroom and the very first thing after leaving is use their cell phone,” Constance said.

Sociologically, the cell phone is an important status symbol. Constance said that in today’s society, unlike when he was in his 20s, people are more likely to use cell phones for everyday conversations with friends, and because of this are more likely to get wrapped up in conversations when they should be heading to their meetings or classes.

Constance also said that owning a cell phone may make people feel they don’t have to hurry to a get-together because they can use the phone to call and report their late arrival to friends.

“Previously, without the ability to make instant excuse, I think people took being on time more importantly,” he said. “I don’t think being on time is as important anymore because people they use the phone excuse to get them off the hook.”

Constance admitted that even he uses his cell phone to report being late sometimes, but on average only uses it for 18 minutes a month. While he said the cell phones do have some positive features, in his opinion, they have contributed to a general rudeness in society of people thinking that a cell phone always excuses them for being late.

Senior Shantle Foster said the cell phone issue has gotten out of hand in the last few years.

“Cell phones really have gotten out of control,” Foster said. “As far as walking into class late because of a cell phone, you just have to prioritize.”

Foster added that technology “pretty much runs ours lives.”

Junior Megan Shelton, on the other hand, said that cell phones are beneficial and are not to blame for tardiness.

“I my opinion, I don’t think people are going to be late because of a cell phone,” Shelton said. “The cell phone is more of a medium that lets the person communicate that they’re going to be late.”

Shelton added that cell phones have actually helped out society in many instances because the new features allows people to send and receive information without actually being at their desired location.

“I guess I agree in a way phones can cause lateness if there’s a meeting or some important occasion you have to get to, but if you’re running late you can e-mail, text message or you can get whatever you have to do at the event done on the cell phone, quotes, e-mails and your schedule,” she said.

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