Cell phones alter brain activity? Of course!
Cell phone use alters brain activity?
Of course it does.
They say holding a cell phone next to your head increases brain activity by 7 percent.
That's probably true. Since getting a cell phone, at least 7 percent of my brain has continually been active wondering whether anyone has sent me a text message.
It's not like waiting by the phone. Waiting by the phone implied that if the phone rang, you would pick it up and have a conversation. The only time I use my cell phone for that is with my parents, who still write full signatures after all their text messages, or if I am lost and have exhausted all other options.
Cell phones are for information hits. If information were a drug, we'd need to have cell phone exchanges.They're the prime delivery method - quick hits immediately.
Cell phones put us in touch with each other without the annoyances of actual conversation. When you are really talking to someone, you are expected to listen when he or she says anything, and if you only start laughing half an hour later, it strikes everyone as odd. And they're transforming our language, giving us that peculiar shorthand with lots of U's that shortens normal words to make room for more exclamation points!!!!!
In most American Adults, cell phones have also activated the brain area that is concerned about sexting. This brain area was underused in prior ages. Occasionally it would flare up because you had the sense that, somewhere, your child might be posing for an ill-advised daguerreotype, but you could generally arrange for the pony delivering this to fall into a peat bog and die before any damage could be done.
Without my cell phone, I am lost. With it, I am also lost, but I can text somebody. My cell phone has deactivated the part of my brain that used to tell me how to get from point A to point B without mistakenly walking several miles along Dangerous Highway C. Once Google Maps failed to function, and I convinced myself that I was drowning in the mid-Atlantic because I am no longer able to detect simple location cues.
Recently, while bowling, I found myself continually checking my phone. "It is easier to grip the ball if you aren't holding your Blackberry," my friends pointed out. But I couldn't put it down! My brain was too busy being active!
I don't know what that part of my brain is expecting. Perhaps someone will sext me!
The nearest I can come to expressing the ineffable allure of the omnipresent cell phone is that maybe the next time I reload my e-mail, George Lucas will have gotten in touch because he wants me to write the dialogue for the live-action Star Wars series.
Anything might happen.
But perhaps our phone obsession is something more. After all, the defining human characteristic is not compassion or the ability to walk upright or our vague mistrust of the Prudential lady or even the notion that we are featherless bipeds possessing a soul. It's the fear of missing out. All of us are constantly worried that everyone else is off somewhere without us having fun.
Although this same sense occasionally nagged at the Colonials, there wasn't much they could do about it besides writing a pointed letter every six months. This is why we are willing to tell faceless strangers where we are. "Hey, look, I have just checked into McDonalds on FourSquare," we say. That's why we take our cell phones everywhere, attached to our hips like babies, or barnacles, or baby barnacles. We eat with them. We drink with them. We would swim with them, but we aren't, by and large, idiots. We sleep with them.
Now they say that sleeping with cell phones is supposed to give your heirs bizarre genetic defects not seen since the fall of the Merovingians. But if you don't sleep with your cell phone, how are you ever going to wind up having heirs in the first place? You might miss the text!
| February 23, 2011; 6:40 PM ET
Categories: Bad Advice, Petri, That's awkward | Tags: cell phones, kids these days, oops, technology
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