Cell phones have had a huge impact on the world.Â People in countries with no running water are able to keep in touch with others thanks to cellular technology and there are over 4 billion cell phones in use around the world.Â As of 4 years ago, 1,000 new users were added every minute.Â Thatâ€™s insane.Â So with all those phones, itâ€™s no surprise that, despite the advantages, there are a couple of downsides as well.
1) Keeping tabs
When you got your first cell phone, you were probably pretty excited about being able to get ahold of whoever you wanted, whenever you wanted.Â No more waiting around to call someone at a certain time, and no more missing important calls either.Â Thatâ€™s the freedom of a cell phone.Â And then, likely within a day, you realized why thatâ€™s not such a great idea.
When you just had your land line, if you wanted to ignore people, you were free to do it.Â Now that you have a cell phone, no one ever understands why you donâ€™t answer calls.Â â€œI was out,â€ will never again be an acceptable excuse.Â Cell phones forced us all to make up new and novel excuses for getting off the phone.Â â€œMy battery is dyingâ€ or â€œI had it turned offâ€ are likely the favorites, but there are many others weâ€™ve had to craft to try to assuage the guilt of having the freedom to talk anywhere, but just not wanting to.
Sure, most people will be content to leave a message, but we all know that one person who will call and call and call and then demand an explanation for why you didnâ€™t pick up.Â For future reference, â€œI was at the movies,â€ â€œI was in a hospitalâ€ and â€œCraziest thing, it just wouldnâ€™t let me answer.Â Damn phones,â€ are also decent excuses.
Likewise, having a cell phone means you have no excuses for not making those calls.Â If you have someone who expects you to check in regularly, whether that be parents, a spouse or a weird roommate, you have to constantly be on your toes coming up with reasons for why you just couldnâ€™t take a couple of minutes.Â Freedom is never free.
2) Awful ads/scams
Technology and exploitation of that technology go hand in hand.Â Every time someone thinks of a new way to connect with people, someone else thinks of a way to annoy those people while they try to make a buck.Â Sometimes this is called advertising.Â Sometimes itâ€™s a scam.Â Sometimes itâ€™s both.
Before you had a cell phone, you probably never would have conceived of the idea of paying someone a dollar to call you on the phone and tell you a joke.Â Or give you your horoscope.Â Or the latest scores from the world of golf.Â But you can do it now, just text â€œdude, seriously?â€ to 345001 and in no time youâ€™ll have all the latest polar bear jokes on your phone.Â Service costs $4.99, must be 18 or older, sponsored by ScamTel, scamming you since 2006.
Of course, those ads still require your participation before they can annoy you.Â Not so with many scams, like say some industrious criminal decides to clone your phone.Â It never happened to grandmaâ€™s old rotary phone, but your phone can be copied exactly and used to make calls to Senegal while youâ€™re sleeping.Â Or maybe your air time is just sold to someone else, and at the end of the month you get your bill and itâ€™s a few thousand dollars more than youâ€™d anticipated.Â This is all thanks to someone else finding out what your electronic serial number and phone number are, and programming them into a second phone.Â Since the system canâ€™t tell them apart, it just bills everything to you.
There was a time when the idea of being able to customize your own ring tone was the greatest thing ever.Â Man invented fire, the wheel, then ringtones.Â Those were the big three.Â Who wouldnâ€™t want to be alerted to a call to the sounds of AC/DC?Â Thatâ€™s awesome.Â Unfortunately, ringtones were all stored in a wicked Pandoraâ€™s Box of despair that has since spiraled out of control.
Itâ€™s almost impossible to spend any significant amount of time in public â€“ at a sporting event, out shopping, at a restaurant, and not be besieged by ringtones.Â And make no mistake, the rest of the public at large did not choose Back in Black for their ringtone.Â Oh no.Â They chose Crazy Frog.Â They chose Celine Dion.Â They chose the sound of an asthmatic trying to breathe.
For every enjoyable ringtone, thereâ€™s 10 horrible midi files or random auditory poltergeists ready to assault your ears whenever you dare tread into a crowded space, and itâ€™s been proven by science that the person in the room with the most annoying ringtone will be the person who gets the highest volume of calls.
Thanks to stunning technological advances, people are more than capable of recording their own ringtones as well, adding the sounds of family greetings or hilarious audio skits to the world of ringtones and making all the rest of us long for the days messenger pigeons.
4) Terrible customer service
Everyone who owns a cell phone has at least one story of how awful customer service was.Â Everyone.Â In fact, itâ€™s highly probably that if you were to fully read the terms of your contract, youâ€™d see somewhere in there a clause that stipulates the company is required to give you abysmal service, either because they think itâ€™s funny, or because itâ€™s easier than doing a good job.Â Whatever the reason, it happens to everyone.Â But how bad is it?
According to this site, Verizon misquotes rates 93% of the time.Â Thatâ€™s statistically amazing.Â It really is.Â To be wrong 93% of the time requires you to actually go out of your way to be wrong.
Other reports list Sprint and AT&T as tops for poor service.Â Sprint actually came in last for customer service in an MSN money survey, while AT&T has a habit of providing poor connectivity, static and dropped calls, especially for the iPhone.Â Theyâ€™ve also denied Google Voice and have included a clause in their contracts disallowing people to join class action lawsuits.Â You know somethingâ€™s afoot when you have to agree to not sue someone before you get involved with them.
The internet is bogged down with thousands upon thousands of stories ranging from simply rude customer service reps to companies sending out payment reminders even before service has started and non-existent service they still get billed for.Â There are as many problems are there are people writing about them, so why do so many people bother?Â Because weâ€™ve become so reliant on cell technology that weâ€™re willing to put up with ridiculous contracts that force us to pay insane fees for texting and data and abhorrent service in the hopes that weâ€™ll eventually find something that we can tolerate.Â And the companies know that.Â Jerks.
5) Worthless applications
Sometimes technology is its own worst enemy.Â Look at the old phone you had when you were a kid, how many games could you play with it?Â At best, you could make prank phone calls.Â And then one day call display ruined that.Â Technology advanced and you suffered for it.
When cell phones first came out, they were phones.Â Pretty much you could dial out talk or receive a call and talk. That was it.Â But then they started advancing in great leaps and bounds and one day you probably found yourself playing Frogger on your phone for 30 minutes while you waited for an important call and when the call finally came your battery died because you were using your phone to play Frogger.Â And that was a pain in the butt.Â But now, oh man.Â Now itâ€™s so much worse.
Thanks to the iPhone, which officially has one bajillion applications, you donâ€™t even need to make phone calls to spend all day on the phone.Â Thereâ€™s an iPhone app that just pretends to be beer.Â Like it looks like a beer and if you tip your phone it looks like youâ€™reÂ drinking or pouring out beer. Thatâ€™s all it does.Â There are game apps, trivia apps, you can listen to music, you can watch videos, thereâ€™s even a harmonica app so you can sorta play synth harmonica music.Â You can waste your entire day, and your battery life, and have accomplished not one single noteworthy thing whatsoever.Â Plus you can pay a fortune to get all those apps only to wake up one night in a cold sweat when you realize that youâ€™ve basically just made Facebook a portable device you can never get away from.Â Do you want to carry FarmTown with you everywhere you go?Â Is that the life you envision for yourself?
As with ringtones, you may be able to avoid all the junk out there and maybe your iPhone only has useful applications that are actually helpful to your every day life, but weâ€™re positive not a day goes by when youâ€™re not inundated with requests and suggestions for horrible new applications you canâ€™t even conceive of wanting.Â Technology, long thought to make our lives easier, just wants to make your life more pointless.
6) Terrible movie plot device
The cellular phone has changed movies forever.Â Or it should have.Â Instead it made filmmakers recognize a problem and then crap all over it.
Say itâ€™s 1975.Â Youâ€™re a hiker.Â You and four friends who are attractive albeit with terrible hairstyles and clothing due to the year are on your way to your uncleâ€™s cabin.Â Sure, the locals back in town mentioned how these woods are haunted, but nuts to them, youâ€™re having a party weekend.Â And as you trudge through the forest, you run afoul of a family of inbred killers.Â Again.Â Damn!Â So you need to spend the rest of the movie losing friends one by one as you attempt to get to the cabin and call for help.
Say itâ€™s 2010.Â Youâ€™re a hiker.Â You and four friends who are attractive albeit jerkoffs because every horror movie features at least three people who are just begging to be taught a lesson, and then maybe two decent characters and youâ€™re on your way to your uncleâ€™s cabin when you run afoul of the second generation of inbred killers.Â So you all pull out your phones and call or text the authorities, your family, you update your Twitter account to let everyone know you found inbred killers and you change your Facebook status to â€œstuck in woods with inbred killers, be back Sunday night! Peace!â€Â The cops arrive in short order and later that night you order a pizza.Â At least thatâ€™s how it should happen.
Filmmakers know we have cell phones and understand how the use of a cell phone ruins the plot of about 90% of horror or suspense movies.Â So what to do?Â Just make them not work.Â Like flashlights in horror movies, cell phones become notoriously unreliable the second you need them.Â The battery dies, they get left in the glove box despite the fact no one ever puts them there, or thereâ€™s just no signal.Â And no signal would have been plausible, about 10 years ago.Â Now, unless youâ€™re camping in a fallout shelter, thereâ€™s very little excuse for not having a signal no matter where you are. And yes, you can get a signal in the Arctic.
Time was, a crazed killer would just cut the phone line and that was a reasonable plot device for cutting off a character from the outside world.Â Now the crazed killer has to down a couple of towers or set up a jamming station if he wants to cut people off, and that just seems unreasonable.Â Sadly, few movies have managed to work a reasonable way around this problem in plotting, but we can hope that in the future weâ€™re going to see masked men with machetes who also carry laptops so they can hack the Verizon network and shut it down for an hour or two.Â Until that time, we, as audiences, are stuck with scenarios we saw coming miles away that eternally ask us to believe only one guy brought a phone and itâ€™s not getting a signal, all the time.