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Inordinate Ordnance: The Cellphone Nation

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

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Written by Chris Carr

I always hear it from my significant other, “You never turn your ringer on. Why do you have a cellphone if you never hear it to answer it?” It makes me uncomfortable, it’s like a source of anxiety, I try to explain to her.

I know I am in the minority here. But I consider my cell phone to be a necessary evil. I have one for work, emergencies and social networking-made-easy. I need to speak with people for my job, here at The Cannon. I need to be available for my co-workers. It is expected that I have a cellphone.

I secretly fear my cellphone. Every time I hear my “I Like Big Butts” ringtone, I know it will bring me news from afar—possibly good news, possibly bad, but news at a speed unfathomable one hundred years ago. News is my business and that is fine, however the cell phone places me in a space of personal accountability for the specific news of my peers. It makes me reachable by my family and friends, and that is fine. However, the source of my anxiety comes from those around me. I cannot shake the feeling that there is never  an appropriate time to answer my cellphone without looking like a d-bag. But maybe it goes deeper than that.

My name is Chris and I have Ringxiety. It feels good to get that off of my chest. It’s a recently coined term to explain people who have a cellphone, like me, but fear its sound is bothersome to the people within the auditory proximity of said phone. It’s a simple (albeit neurotic) form of anxiety that is easily cured by a vibration mode and myriad missed calls.

Ringxiety is a real thing. It was a term invented by Dr. David Laramie, from California's School of Professional Psychology, to explain the phenomenon of sudden auditory anxiety. But there are other new-disorders that come with our age of inter-connected-zombieism.  There is Telephonobia, the irrational fear of making or receiving phone calls. Nomophobia, the fear of not having, or being around your cellphone at all hours of the day (you show me someone who doesn’t know a teenager like this, and I will show you a liar). And finally, Frigensophobia, the fear that your brain can be negatively affected from cellphone use.

I elect we add another affliction to this list of nu-disorders: sociophonephobia, the irrational fear of having to talk to another person, without the aid of a cellphone. You see it all the time. I myself am guilty of it as well. On the bus, nary a person speaks or even makes eye contact. Each person is shielded by the protection of their ear buds and iPhones. It’s like having a seat on the Titanic the day after it sunk.

And what about dating? I would be sans-significant-other, knuckle deep in a fresh tin of frosting, watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians alone, if it weren’t for the impersonal flirtation and safety of the much coveted textversation. I owe most, if not all my relationships to the magic box with the apple logo on it. I dated my girlfriend through a glass and aluminum panel for the first weeks of our relationship, much like a convict must do the same. Is Facetime not the exact same thing, only with a further distance between the conversing people? People in prison have more human contact, even if it is unwanted.

Since I’ve gotten a cellphone, I don’t talk to my friends more, if anything I talk to them less because I know, I could talk to them whenever I’d like and that suffices. Even when I am have a textversation (and just for the record, I am not entirely comfortable with that jargon), it we are rarely talking about anything that could not wait until our next, real-life encounter.

I owe a lot to the cellphone. However, I owe a lot to many evil things. The Iraq War taught me that there are people in this world willing to kill for oil. Anne Coulter taught me that it is possible for the criminally insane to gain a following. Darth Vader taught me that it’s never too late to be good. Cellphones are teaching me that being a socialite is a thing that will soon be forgotten. Gone will be the days of catching up with old friends over dinner, telling them about your life as if it were a new, invigorating story. They will have already been told through half-words and acronyms, single letters attributed to entire words and custom ringtones. Of course I have Ringxiety (also read: sociophonephobia above), every time I hear the polite ring of a new text message, I grow further and further away from people I love.

I’m not sure I like big butts anymore.

Chris Carr is Editor-in-Chief of The Cannon. Inordinate Ordnance publishes every Thursday in The Cannon and in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.

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