Mobile phones are now used for more than just talk. These devices contain downloadable software, apps, and services that allow individuals to communicate globally and have unlimited access to information. When you enter a public place, you’re guaranteed to find more than one person glued to their phone. People are constantly looking down at them, not paying attention to the people around them, distracted while walking or driving because they’re consumed in what’s going on in a world reflected to them on screen. Individual’s lives have changed because of the creation and innovation of technology and ubiquitous mobile communication (UMC).
Mobile communication is everywhere. This is where the term UMC comes from. We all rely on our phones way too much. They have become a part of our daily routines, and are basically attached to our hips. That being said, I believe there are both positive and negative affects that come from this:
UMC allows us to have a “connected presence.” Our phones are used frequently updated on our peer’s situation (Campbell & Park, 2008). It is common for individuals to post statuses of where they are, what they’re doing, who they’re with, etc. Not only that, we are able to communicate with others without physically being with them through text, iMessage, BBM, or Facebook Chat. When you’re in need of someone outside of town, or across the country, you can easily connect with them in just a few clicks.
“Mobiles have actually been an eminently customizable device in another way… They have changed the faces and colours of their cell phones. They regularly change the ringtone, screensaver or desktop. And they care intensely about the mobile as a signifier of fashion and identity” (Goggin, 2009). Our smartphones are like an extension of ourselves; they are like an extra body part that never leaves our side. Mobile stores are no longer filled with chunky black and white phones on their shelves. They have colourful, customizable phones are cases so we can express ourselves and make them quite individualized (Goggin, 2009).
Don’t get me wrong, I miss my old Nokia – $0.25/min, and $0.15/text…NOT)
And now for the negatives…
Moving on to how we are constrained by UMC… I think in a sense it is sacrificing the art of communication. I have to admit, I am a “texter;” but I am still able to feel a lack of connection emotionally when using my cell phone to communicate. I don’t understand how, but nowadays people have such serious conversations over their mobile devices. Break ups, arguments, and business decisions are now discussed mobile-y rather than face-to-face. So yes, I find this as a limitation and negatively affecting the way in which we communicate, but as technology and networks continue to develop, this may be the new “talk” – something to get used too.
In my opinion, the communicative benefits of ubiquitous mobile communication out-weight the disadvantages. We are able to access and share crazy amounts of information, and keep in touch with those anywhere anytime through our smartphones and online. Since we are SO connected, a lot of information is shared across networks, from person to person. What’s scary about this is that people are unaware of who else has access to their info.
For example, Microsoft exposed Google through a press release this past year regarding the company reading users Mail. When the public became aware of this, they were quite disturbed (felt it was a violation of their privacy), and the term “Scroogled” was developed (Mick, 2013). After doing some minor research, it turns out all of Google’s actions are legal. When you go to create a Google account and agree to the “Terms and Services” clause, you’re giving Google permission to access whatever you type on their site. Check out a blog I came across subtitled “Everything Google Does Not Want You To Know” http://googleexposed.wordpress.com/
If Google is doing this so nonchalantly, I couldn’t imagine what other companies are looking at my stuff! I’ve noticed that Facebook has been taking my search results, and incorporating advertisements into the side bar to match my interests. How they track everything I do, I will never know.
Realizing this has definitely made me want to be more careful with what I share. I am very FOR going back to the “old-fashioned” way of communicating – over phone and face-to-face; but I know in this day and age that’s not going to happen. I think I’m going to start using texting for its ultimate purpose – short, instant messages, and try to achieve a balance of using these devices and going back to the roots of communication.