December 03, 2012


Recently, I was listening to Jian Ghomeshi discussing Oxford American Dictionary's words of the year.  One of these words - nomophobia - (extreme fear and anxiety caused by being without one's mobile phone) made me laugh.

I suffer from the opposite affliction.  I'd like to know what the word is for extreme fear and anxiety caused by one's cell phone ringing.

Quite a few years ago, I purchased a cell phone at a yard sale for $12. 

I know, I am such a gearhead.  I pay $11.30 per month for a pay as you go plan.  I use the phone very infrequently and I certainly don't use it while I am dining out.  I also don't use it in the bathroom at the Dutch Club in front of the sink while others are waiting to wash their hands.

As it turns out, the ringing of cell phones, as opposed to say, the ringing of the giant bell of the Salvation Army kettle-person, is a nonissue.  After reading Ian Gillespie's column Drowning in Social Media, I learned that the darn kids these days are text-obsessed.  Texting is where it's at, my friends.  A high school student at Sir Wilfred Laurier organized a social media blackout to remind students how "distracting it [social media] can be and how it can lead to cybercruelty".  Of the 1100 students at Sir Wilfred Laurier, a meagre 35 individuals chose to participate in the blackout.  I am guessing that these 35 people did this as a favour to the organizer.  

I am not concerned with cybercruelty.  There will always be mean kids and whether they engage in cyberbullying or harrass their victims in person is not my point.  What I take issue with is that kids are permitted to use their phones while they are in class, supposedly learning.  Have teachers lost their minds? Has society collectively forgotten its manners?

My husband, a secondary school teacher, tells me that it is nearly impossible to monitor phone usage.  Texting is rampant and kids are good at being surreptitious.  I told him that he should make everyone drop their phones into a big box at the front of the room when they came in.  If he catches someone in the textzone, he should confiscate the phone immediately.  What's to think about?

When I was in high school, we passed notes, furtively and selectively.  If you couldn't find someone at lunch, you got up off your keister (which probably was a lot firmer and fitter than they are these days) and roamed the hallways to look for them.  Parents and children made plans for pick ups and drop offs in the morning.  If plans changed during the school day, the secretary was called.  

It seems to me that there is something wrong with the current picture and that there is an easy solution:


But wait, not everyone agrees with this.  Some parents have paid hard dollars (or hard plastic!) for their children to have phones.  This means that the parents are entitled to know where their kids are (at school, duh!) and want to be able to contact them at all times.

I know a certain VP who can't practice what she preaches.   She roams the hallways of the school, phone in hand, texting constantly, while "connecting" with the kids.  I guess she thinks that she is multi-tasking.

Wake up teachers; wake up school boards.   We have a society of stressed out, hard-wired, overscheduled kids.  Time to turn off and tune back in to the classroom.