People always love to talk about how they eschew technology and modern trends. “Oh, I really don’t watch television.” “I have a Facebook account, but I don’t know the password anymore.” “Twitter? I don’t even know what that is!” “I hate cell phones–I don’t believe in texting.”
I’m always suspicious of these people, because they come across as filthy liars. Everyone talks about not watching television, but millions of people do. Who are they? Are they hiding? And Facebook has over 500 million users. Surely some of them actually like Facebook, and use it regularly.
Well, here I am. I enjoy TV. I really do! I like updating my Facebook status daily with obscure movie quotes or snarky observations. And my life improved infinitely when I got my first smartphone a few months ago.
That being said, I do, on occasion, hate cell phones. From a social work perspective, that is.
In every teen group, the topic of cell phones comes up. Asking teens to leave their phones at home, or to turn them off, is like asking them to chop off their arm, all the while assuring them, “You’ll get it back at the end of the hour!”
They agree, but they think they’re slick. Somehow, they think I won’t notice the flurry of hand movement under the table. (Oh dear, at least I hope they’re texting…)
And putting a phone on vibrate is not the same as turning it off. It might be more annoying than hearing whatever current Jay-Z ringtone that teen might have. Halfway through a group session, everyone has missed at least one call, and it sounds like the room is being circled by a swarm of bees.
It really takes away when a girl is trying to share her tale of being abused by her mother’s latest boyfriend.
But teens aren’t the only ones. They at least have an excuse. They’re young, they still have room to learn, and going an hour without talking to a friend is an eternity for a ninth grader.
The parents also feel the need to have their phones on in session. I always address this upfront. “Oh, but it might be an emergency!”
Might it be? Really think, everyone. When is the last time you had a genuine emergency? An emergency involves calls to 911 and possibly hostage negotiations. They’re rare. It’s why my parents never used baby monitors–when you can hear every hiccup and cough, each one become cause for alarm. (Also, I really valued my privacy as an infant.)
Leaving messages is always a treat. Sometimes I think my clients forget that their friends and family will not be the only ones calling them. Some of the calls come from me, their children’s schools, or potential employers. I enjoy getting a chance to dance in my chair to a highly inappropriate rap song, but a future boss might not.
And then there are the outgoing messages. “You know who you called. Leave a message and maybe I’ll get back to you.” Ooh. Sassy.
There’s the, “Oh hi.”
I start talking.
“What was that? You’re breaking up.”
I start yelling.
“Hee hee. Just kidding. Leave a message at the beep.”
Well now I’m just annoyed.
Cell phones are great. A lot of my clients wouldn’t have a phone at all if it wasn’t for the option of a cheap, boost mobile. Granted, the number changes every other week (literally), but they do keep us in contact. But there are places they don’t belong. Libraries, confessionals, and the counseling room come to mind.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I really need to take this.