September 4, 2013 | Volume 100 / Number 361

For The Sake Of A Tool

Recently I added texting to my cell phone. I’ve been resisting it for a long time. One of my sons told me being able to send text messages from a cell phone is a great tool.

After sending text messages for just a few days, I have to agree that it is indeed that. Therein lie my thoughts for this week.

So many things we use every day and take for granted are really nothing more than a tool. However, it seems at times that tools such as cell phones and what can be done with them have taken over our daily lives.

Not long ago, as I sat in a restaurant waiting for my order, I noticed at least six people totally absorbed in their cell phones. At one table a husband and wife both sat staring at their phones as each tapped out a message. Why, I wondered, were they so intent on what they were doing instead of talking to each other? What was so important that they could not put down their phones?

I have observed two people talking with each other and suddenly one looks at their phone and stops the conversation so they can read a message or send one.

There have been times my phone has rang while I’m talking with someone. And I’ve looked to see who is calling. If I feel it is necessary to answer, I ask the person I’m with to please excuse me for a moment, then step away and take the call and try to make it as short as possible.

I’ve been told the advantage of being able to send a text message is that although you are alerted by a specific sound from your phone that you have a new message, you can wait until a bit later to read the message and answer it. Isn’t it also possible to let someone leave a message for you to hear later on and then make a return call?

There are times when a cell phone has been a great tool -- even a life-saving tool. And it can also be a deadly tool when a person who is driving a vehicle lets their concentration on traffic be interrupted by a call or text message.

A while back a high school had a driving course set up. The purpose of the course was to have students drive while texting. Upon completion of the experiment, many students stated they didn’t realize how dangerous it was to drive and text.

Sometimes we often forget that a cell phone is simply a tool. A tool that like anything else used in moderation can be a good thing. When used excessively it detracts rather than adds to our lives.

I often wonder why instant communication has become such a necessity that we have become willing to sacrifice our lives for the sake of a tool.

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