Apr 282011
Authors: Chadwick Bowman

My cell phone makes me paranoid.

Nothing I have ever owned provides me with more bad news than my cell phone.

I get angry phone calls from neighbors when my dog runs away; I worry every time I get a call from work, assuming that I messed something up again.

Comcast consistently dials me up because I owe them money and Wells Fargo calls because I owe them money, too.

My dad calls to scold me for missing my mom’s birthday; my best friend from Arizona phones to tell me how he went golfing, while it’s raining and windy here.

My brother calls me because he lost his house keys that were in his somehow lost pants, and girls text me to call me an “NPA.”

It’s exhausting.

The problem is that it’s not just my phone anymore. It’s my Gmail account, my Collegian email, my Facebook and blog and my Twitter (follow me @ChadwickBowman).

Technology has become so ubiquitous that the concept of “getting away” has become impossible.

I think that with the more inclined to technology you become, the more responsibilities you inherit; especially with a smart phone where everyone knows I can maintain all these social platforms with one device.

If I don’t have my phone for a day, I have an anxious, concerned feeling that something is wrong and people need to get a hold of me.

I feel an obligation to answer text messages, even the most trivial ones –– texts like: “What are you doing this weekend?”
In our line of work, much like anyone else who is either a college graduate or about to graduate, these media beyond texting and phone calls are necessary. We use them to “get noticed.”

The troublesome part of it is maintaining all of them that are bundled with a social life that seeps into your Facebook, Twitter and email accounts, while preserving the reputation that you have developed using these resources.

One embarrassing picture posted on Facebook of you passed out in the front yard next to a mail box that says “The Ferguson’s” and has two blue birds painted on it can steer away any professional buzz that you have created for yourself.

Facebook for me has become a necessary evil. If you’re off Facebook, you’re out of the loop; if you’re on it, you must be vigilant in preserving your online reputation.

Users, I believe, are now concerned with their online reputation just as much as their real-life reputation –– hence the reason why people spend endless amounts of time on social networking sites.

I find it difficult to try and maintain one reality –– socially and professionally –– let alone a digital reality.

For me, there are those days when I’m just am annoyed with people in general. I shut off my phone, set my iPod to Sabotage Soundsystem and walk my dog through campus. I don’t want to answer texts regardless of who it is –– no emails, phone calls, or Twitter updates. The best way I can avoid feeling overextended is feeling underwhelmed.

The very theme of Twitter is the idea that you are being followed –– followed because people expect something from you. A concept I find none-too-reassuring, and rather depleting.

On some days, it’s my friends who annoy me, and they get agitated when I ignore them. They know I have my phone with me and they know I’m not in class or at work. So they say: “What the hell?”

Ultimately, it’s all push and pull, a trade-off. I find I have to balance between getting noticed, preserving relationships and allowing for some sort of my much needed isolation.

The frantic speed at which technology is changing, and new forms of communication that emerge daily, makes it increasingly difficult to seek solace.

Editorial Editorial Chadwick Bowman is a senior sociology and journalism major. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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