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The Sociological Perspectives Of Cellular Phones

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Cellular phones are currently a common sight among individuals. This electronic gadget provides a mobile means of communication among people, bypassing the requirement of using a telephonic device that is connected to a telephone line, of which in turn originates from a telephone jack. Cellular phones significantly contribute to the functioning of the society because it provides a faster means of exchanging messages and calling people, even when they are on the road and not in the office or at home. Cellular phones also provides a means for directly contacting a person without going through telephone operators or voice recordings, hence the caller saves more time in calling a certain person.

These mobile devices also serve as a modern way of exchanging photographs and music between individuals, which was only possible a decade ago through other primitive means. The use of cellular phones therefore provides independence to its users, because they can still proceed to where they are going without missing the chance of receiving a telephone call that may be important to them.

Cellular phones also provide mobility to the user because he can be contacted at any time, as long as the service provider is capable of providing a telephone signal to the cellular phone. In addition, cellular phones provide privacy to the user, because no other person will receive the phone call but the single owner or user of the phone himself. Lastly, cellular phones provide a direct means of contacting an individual, no matter how far or how near the person is to the caller.

An unintended consequence of using cellular phones is that the receiver of a phone call has the choice of answering the phone call or not because the receiver can see the phone number that the caller is using, and even the name of the caller. Such use of caller ID or caller identification thus provides an opportunity for the receiver to select which telephone calls to receive and which ones to ignore. This setting is not available in the classical telephones and so the receiver has no other option but to pick up the phone whenever the telephone rings. Unfortunately, some individuals pick out which telephone calls they will answer, depending on their personality and urgency.

This condition therefore affects the social interaction that was earlier perceived as to be uncontrolled in earlier telephones. Another unintended consequence of employing cellular phones in communication is that people tend to rely or be dependent on phone calls instead of personally approaching and talking with the other people face-to-face.

Although the goal of performing personal communication is still preserved, the sincerity of communication using cellular phones may also be at risk, because the individuals talking to each other over the cellular phone do not see the facial expressions of each other, and these expressions are essential in determining the sincerity of a person, as well as the actual expression of each individual to the other. Since communication using cellular phones simply involves verbal exchange of messages, cellular phones may result in a dysfunctional effect in sociology, because the facial expression of each individual is not considered as a means of sincerity anymore.

Cellular phones also pose as a threat to society because it provides a means of communication between only two individuals. Such small size of communicating individuals thus may divide society, because there will only be particular individuals that will be constantly in communication (Onnela et al., 2007). An individual may not call all his friends with the same frequency, hence the person he calls most often will automatically be considered as his closest friend. Telephones, in general, are therefore sources of divide in the society, because it bypasses the need to interaction with more than two individuals, which often occurs during personal visits. In addition, cellular phones are a bit costly, and are usually considered as a second telephone.

The first or initial telephone is generally the home telephone number. Therefore, for those families that have a limited financial resource, these individuals may not own a cellular phone and only those individuals or families who can afford a second phone will subscribe to a cellular phone. With this setting, the society may be divided in terms of their financial capability of buying and subscribing a cellular phone. Thus, cellular phones provide a means of promoting division within the society because only those individuals who can afford cellular phones will use cellular phones.

The individuals who do own cellular phones tend to guard these electronic gadgets with care and privacy. This means that no other people can have access to their personal cellular phones, unlike regular telephones, which other people can use once they ask permission to use their telephone to call an individual. Hence, cellular phones trigger the construction of walls around each individual, wherein no other person can use that particular phone.

The owner of the cellular phone, on the other hand, tends to shy away from the rest of the society because he will consider his cellular phone as his means for communication and the rest of the society is not essential to his personal circle of friends that he needs or wants to interact with. Currently, cellular phone companies are designing ways of providing three-way conversations using cellular phones, yet these are still limited in terms of the number of individuals within a communicating circle (Scharnhorst et al., 2006). There should be more ways that cellular phones could promote sociological aspects of growth.

Onnela JP, Saramaki J, Hyvonen J, Szabo G, Lazer D, Kaski K, Kertesz J, Barabasi AL (2007): Structure and tie strengths in mobile communication networks. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U S A. 104(18):7332-6.

Scharnhorst W, Hilty LM and Jolliet O (2006): Life cycle assessment of second generation (2G) and third generation (3G) mobile phone networks. Environ. Int. 32(5):656-75.

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