We are both enabled and constrained by the ubiquitous advances in mobile communication. In the past, the mobile telephone’s main purpose was for calling someone and to stay connected. It is now so easy to find information, make future plans and keep in touch with friends, but at the same time this type of communication is changing the way we interact with people. However, the cell phone has become a hot commodity that you cannot leave the house without. As a result, theorists have begun to study the mobile telephones meaning to society. This post will reflect upon how we are both enabled and constrained by the ubiquitous advances in mobile communication. The article Social Implications of Mobile Telephony proclaims that the mobile world has emerged as one of the defining communications of our time (Campbell & Parks, 2008).
Despite the many views on technological determinism as suggested in this article. Theorists such as Mclauchlan and Castells suggest in their theoretical framework that communication technology is used as a tool to understand society – mobile phones are a characteristic of social order (Campbell & Park, 2008). However, this is not suggesting that advances in technological communication determine society, rather, they serve as a lens for examining social order that is produced/reproduced through systems of mass communication.
In considering the symbolic meaning of the mobile phone, Campbell & Park claimed that the proliferation of the mobile phone conceptualized a relationship between technological communication and the body (2008). For instance, mobile phones were mainly used as a tool to stay in touch with friends/bosses/clients. But, now there has been a shift in that paradigm, whereby staying in touch with your friends and the style/fashion of the phone is not the main reason for purchasing a mobile device. The emergence of global communication has increased throughout the decades – such as the advances in the development of ‘smartphones,’ the typical cell phone one would now call a mini PC. Telecommunication organizations compete against one another to develop the best product for its consumers. For example, Bell and Rogers try to sell/advertise their phones as having faster Internet access and media graphics. The market demands a cell phone that can connect to the Internet faster: 3G vs. Edge, or now Rogers has 4G LTE.
The mobile world is constantly changing, providing technological advances through upgrades to mobile devices. However, what are telecommunication companies going to come up with next? Am I being honest if I say I feel constrained by my mobile device? I pay more attention to my phone then to my school work – I am always checking my text messages, Facebook posts, tweets and emails. If I don’t see the red light blinking on my phone I feel, “what’s going on?” I feel cut off, even lonely.
A few years ago I had a basic Samsung flip phone – it didn’t take pictures or videos, nor could it connect to the Internet. Its main features enabled me to call my friends/family and send text messages. At that time many of my friends had a Smartphone. I didn’t see why it was necessary to have all of those gadgets/features on a cell phone – camera, video, games and Internet access. I thought a phone was a phone – why did people need to have a digital camera and a computer in that device as well? However, as someone may call it, “I went to the dark side”. Now I cannot live without my Internet access, sending/receiving emails daily, looking up quick stuff on the net, or as my dad would say, “Just Google it!” Is it just because society feels they need that quick access? Does this mean we feel constrained by an overabundance of technological advances or are we just all conforming to a new age of technology?
Campbell, S. W. and Park, Y. J. (2008), Social Implications of Mobile Telephony: The Rise of Personal Communication Society. Sociology Compass, 2: 371–387