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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Thursday, September 04, 2014

OF CELL PHONES AND BONDAGE

"Dude, whatever"

I don't have a smart phone.  I don't have a phone of any kind, even dumb.  There's a land line in the house, but its not mine.  I don't want a cell phone because I can't pay for the montly fees and I have no practical use for one.  I'm from the generation that grew up before these things became so common, we can get by just fine without them.
If I'm somewhere and want to look something up, I remember it and look later.  If I need to call someone, I can usually find a phone nearby, or do without.  I'm not the President of the United States, I'm not a brain surgeon, I don't run a fortune 500 company; nobody needs to reach me at a moment's notice.
That said, I can see the uses and advantage of having an internet-ready device at my disposal at all times.  There have been times I wish I could look something up on the fly or check on something.  There are times I wish I could fly, too.  I've lived nearly 49 years without either.  But they'd be handy.
The thing is, cell phones are changing society.  They are making an impact on what we do and how and the way we behave socially.  I'm not just referring to effective illiteracy and lack of social comprehension that is beginning to take place in younger people, which I've written about in the past.
 Those things are a concern, but there's more to it.
As I write this, millions of people are scouring the internet trying to find nudie pictures of celebrities such as Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence which were leaked by a hacker.  The hacker or hackers got into the "Apple Cloud" storage and grabbed lots of pictures that these celebrities had uploaded.  Now they're all over the internet.
For most of us its hard to be too terribly dismayed by this news, the narcissism of stars is not exactly unknown and taking thousands of pictures of yourself on your phone is not a sign of a healthy human being.  They might be upset by this, but not too upset, after all no such thing as bad publicity, and beautiful, self-focused people love to be admired.
But there's an aspect to this that isn't well understood by many.  A lot of these stars are saying "but I deleted those!" They are noting that they didn't upload anything to the "cloud," that these pictures were only on their phone.
Except the I-Phone by default automatically uploads your pictures to the cloud, unless you change that setting.  And deleting them off your phone doesn't do anything to that big internet storage waiting to be peeked into by a well-motivated person.
Now, before the advent of the cell phone camera, people were a bit less inclined to take so many pics of themselves, particularly nekkid.  They had to get the pictures processed, usually by someone they didn't know, and hence the possibility of it being stolen or distributed seemed too high to risk it.  There are examples of starlets in the past who got glamourous shots of themselves in the buff for a lover or to make some money before becoming famous, but they are few in example and the pictures limited in number.
Cell phones give a delusion of privacy and personal control which leads people into thinking they can handle all this stuff themselves and nobody else will touch it.  But that's not just ignorant, its potentially damaging.  Hackers are continuously stealing passwords and info from the internet and cell phones to use; identity theft and using peoples' bank cards.
Consider this bit of news by Jack Dutton in the San Francisco Chronicle:
Seventeen fake cellphone towers were discovered across the U.S. last week, according to a report in Popular Science.

Rather than offering you cellphone service, the towers appear to be connecting to nearby phones, bypassing their encryption, and either tapping calls or reading texts.
In addition to the zoning fees and land, a cell phone tower takes about $150,000 to set up.  Seventeen of them, at least - there are likely more as yet undetected - were set up just to hack phones.  Someone though it was worth spending at least two million bucks to do this, and it wasn't for a prank or to post pictures on 4chan.  People believe they have the power to do things privately that they absolutely do not have, simply because of the devices they spend so much time on.
Meanwhile, cell phones are having an impact in other areas.  Consider this video (yes, it has gratitutious, pointless bleeped profanity, to seem "real" and "street" but the point is good):



Having a cell phone means never really needing to plan anything.  You can make it up on the fly.  Why memorize anything, its all in your phone?  Do you even remember peoples' phone numbers any longer?  Do you make lists and remember things or do you just rely on the phone or calling people?
Do you even know how to get across town without using the phone for directions?  If you do, you're probably older than 25.  Do you know how to use a map?  Are you committed to appear places or be at a party or do you leave it contingent on who else will show up or cancel?
We're way past the rudeness of ignoring the people around you to text or look at your phone.  That's so well established and recognized we all know it - it doesn't seem to change anything, but we know it.
The smart phone is an amazing, powerful tool, but it is having far greater impact on the very fabric of culture than any device before it.  And that's worth examining.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Eric said...

I think we actually do a lot more social things with more different groups of people now than we used to due to cell phones. You used to have to make a ton of calls or send out invitations weeks in advance to plan something. Now you can create a Saturday evening cookout with friends or family while you are waiting in line at the bank, as soon as the idea occurs to you.

There have always been people who were flaky, chronically late, or habitual no-shows. That's not a new thing.

I do think there are some serious social drawbacks to smart phone technology, especially the thing where everyone in a social group has their head down looking at their phone...

... but I also see a lot of benefits.


4:53 PM, September 04, 2014  
Blogger Christopher Taylor said...

Update on the cell towers; it appears they weren't actual physical tower structures, but were devices. Its possible that at least some were law enforcement in origin.


http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/09/04/rumor-check-those-fake-cellphone-towers-youre-hearing-about-arent-necessarily-towers-at-all/

4:31 PM, September 05, 2014  

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