[NETIZENS’ VOICE]There are two sides to cell phone useA cellular phone is a double-edged sword. Sometimes it makes us happy but sometimes it makes us angry. Because of cellular phones, which have already become a part of our lives, things that we could not even imagine 10 years ago are possible. Whenever I talk about cellular phones, an article comes to mind. It was written by the poet Hwang Ji-woo about five or six years ago. The title was “Crazy machine, cellular phone.” The following is an excerpt:
“On a peaceful residential street a middle-aged man was walking toward me yelling in a loud voice. He looked insane. I observed him closely, taking a defensive stance to see if he had any hostile intentions against me. It sounded like he was asking someone to pay unpaid bills. As he talked, out poured abusive language and curses. Only as he walked right past me did I discover that there was a cellular phone held to his left ear under his thick fist . . .”
Mr. Hwang must have been quite startled by the man talking on the phone on the street in the middle of the night. If Michel Foucault was to write the second edition of “Madness and Civilization,” I definitely think he would write about cellular phones.
Mr. Hwang confessed in the latter part of his article, “These days, everyone uses cellular phones. People carry these crazy machines that can not stand the silence in their pockets. The problem is that I am the same. I resisted and resisted the general trend, but surrendered in the end.”
Sometimes, we learn of shocking events happening only because of cellular phones. An incident on Teachers’ Day, May 15, 2000, is a representative case. During a ceremony a student was pulling pranks. A teacher saw this and hit him on the forehead. A couple of students nearby took out their phones and called the police, reporting a violent incident. Two policemen from a nearby police station came to the school and investigated the situation. They closed the case, saying it was a minor matter.
I recall feeling embarrassed and furious after reading this report. What a shock it must have been for the students and the teachers. As for the case itself, it was a mistake; having a cellular phone means someone can make a phone call without thinking.
Cellular phones can cause unintended problems. Some students become addicted and suffer anxiety when they do not have their cellular phones and some use their phones excessively, resulting in mounting communication fees. In addition, researchers have suggested there could be side effects from the electromagnetic waves generated by cellular phones.
On the other hand, there are some satisfying things brought by cellular phones. Climbers who lost their way can be located by the signals from their cellular phones when they call for help. Criminals on the run can be tracked similarly, or police alerted by a witness to a crime. Cellular phones have made our lives more convenient; now people can buy stocks, pay bills and even watch movies using their cellular phones.
We cannot ignore the convenience that has made cell phones a necessity in this era of information and communication. However, it would be wise to try to minimize the “side effects” of cellular phones.
by Lee Jae-il
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