How I use my cell phone

This blog post was published on USA TODAY Social Media on July 12, 2010.

I was fourteen when I got my first cell phone. It was huge, had a bright green Celtics case, the Snake game, and t9 texting—by far its most exciting feature.

Since getting our first cell phones, my friends and I have spent the last decade or so evolving into adults, with these evolving devices always at our sides. In fact, most of us would agree that by this point, our “cellies” have become something like another bodily appendage, ones we simply can’t live without.

“Basically, I’m not quite sure how I would function without my Blackberry,” said Stephanie Steinberg, 21.

To gauge how people my age are using their cell phones, I asked my friends and peers (almost all of whom haveSmartphones: mainly BlackberriesiPhones and Androids) for their input.

Sure these genius devices can still make calls, but that is pretty much the last thing we use our cell phones for nowadays.

What we use our phones for:

Texting—Not Calling!

As opposed to our parents who call and leave voicemails (in fact, virtually all the voicemails I receive are from my mother), my friends and I mostly only text each other; and if we do call, we never leave voicemails.

“I actually get kind of annoyed when people call me with short things like ‘Hey, what are you doing later?’ when they could just text the same thing,” said Dexter Mullins, 22. “And as much as it is convenient, I hate voicemail. I guess we’ve become a verytext-heavy generation.”

Mullins’ comments echo my (and my friends’) thinking entirely: why spend the time talking or listening, when you could just instantly text someone and receive the same outcome much quicker? It’s all about efficiency and speed, people.

Also, there are some instances where texting is just a whole lot less awkward.

“[When asking a girl out], texting just takes the pressure off, so you don’t have to worry about being rejected on the phone or in person,” said Jeff Hartheimer, 20.

Organization

For us, cell phones take the place of alarm clocks, planners, and calendars.

“This is kind of embarrassing, but without my iPhone reminding me about appointments and my to-do list, I would never make it through my day,” said Noah Drori, 21.

“I use the alarm on my phone to wake me up in the mornings and I love it because I can wake up to a favorite song rather than an annoying beeping noise,” said Laura Wainman, 22.

Social Media

Mobile devices allow us to be connected socially at all times, wherever we go.

“I use my cell phone to text, Tweet, and Facebook way more than I do to actually call anyone,” said Mullins.

“I use the Twitter app the most when I’m out and about and want to tweet something noteworthy,” said Stephanie Steinberg, 20.
Photos

Sharing photos instantly is extremely useful when being in person is just not possible, necessary, or even ideal.

“If I am out shopping and want to get another opinion on something, I can take a picture of what I am trying on and ask a friend how it looks,” said Laura Wainman, 22. “It’s really helpful because I can only handle shopping for an hour max and most girls want to make it an all day thing.”

Information

We can get the news instantly wherever we are now, keeping us informed all day long.

“I read the news (The New York Times and Al-Jazeera) all day on my iPhone,” said Noah Drori, 21.

“My most-used apps on my Droid are all news ones: Huffington Post, New York Times, NPR, and BBC,” said Ben Johnson, 21. “I also use it for keeping up with sports scores, especially the World Cup.”

Plus, almost all friendly disputes can be resolved with a quick Google search, which is now possible whenever and wherever.

A few years ago, if my friends and I got in a fight on the subway over what Obama’s favorite snack was, we’d have no way to settle it. Last year during the inauguration, however, we were able to find out in just seconds from a quick Google search on someone’s Blackberry the vital information that he does indeed favor pistachios. That was really weird—but really cool.

We literally have all the information in the world at our fingertips—at all times.

Entertainment

No need to ever be bored again. Most of my friends said they use their phone to play games, from Sudoku to Brickbreaker.

“I play the ‘dot game’ all day on my iPhone,” said Drori.

Relaxation

Just as we use our cell phones to be highly functional and multi-tasked all day, we rely on them again when it’s time to relax, whether through playing music or utilizing other Apps.

One of my friends uses the Yoga Stretches app on her iPhone, while another uses an App that features rain sounds to help put her to sleep.

“My iPhone helps me fall asleep. I put it on the pillow next to me, turn on the SleepMaker App on Light Rain with Rolling Thunder, and I’m off,” said Samantha Wyatt, 21.

Location

After moving to DC and knowing nothing of the area, I rely heavily on my Blackberry to direct me while I’m driving.

GPS capabilities also make finding a nearby restaurant or gas station very easy.

And with location-based social networks like Foursquare andGowalla, we can now see our friends’ (or strangers’) tips on nearby places as soon as we check in somewhere.

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