Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hogwash: Cell Phones and Social Skills

No Pride Parade this year, that was a decision I made a few months ago, and my reasoning is very simple: No matter how far I run, I can't escape my head. So maybe I'm a bit of a prisoner here, though the cell isn't particularly spartan. The biggest reason for me to go to a Pride Parade, any Pride Parade, is as much to share my pride as it is to hook up. But I'm an introvert, and even when I try to be more, to reach out, I don't.

Reminds me of the time I tried to be an optimist. I didn't expect it to work. And it didn't.

Continuing on that note, I overheard someone at one of my jobs make a claim that cell phone usage causes poor social skills. If I have any pet peeves, mixing up Causation and Correlation is would certainly be one of them.

He was talking about boys going off to camp, and forcing them to turn in their cell phones, to be returned at the end of camp. They bunk in groups, and what are they supposed to do? Why, talk to each other, of course. If they kept their cell phones, they wouldn't do so, and he insisted that cell phones are causing children growing up these days to have no or poor social skills.

It's hogwash.

Cell phones do not eradicate social skills. For one, they give greater opportunity to develop cross-cultural social skills. For another, many of us who turn to cell phones for entertainment instead of chatting with the people around us, perhaps we're using cell phones and smartphones to hide the fact that we didn't have very good social skills to begin with.

I didn't own a cell phone until high school, and it was a pay-as-you-go phone. I paid for it myself, and it had lower-resolution games than most versions of Snake. Hell, it didn't even have Snake! By them it was too late for me. My parents had tried to get my involved in sports, cub scouts, and other social events, but all I wanted to do was put my nose in a book. Maybe they did their job of turning me into a reader too well. Maybe it's my "nature," and not my "nurture," that's at fault: I'm just not a social person.

I had three friends in high school, and I only met more people in college because they were friends of those friends. By then I was up to a phone that did a little more, had a small data and texting plan, but still no Snake. Only in the past two years have I gotten a phone that could have Snake, but I didn't download it, for want of better and bigger games on its HD screen.

And still I use my cell phone for entertainment, more often than not as an eBook reader or for card games than actually playing games that can't be replicated without the phone. Not because I have spent so much time using my phone that my social skills have dwindled away to something worth sneezing at, but because I got tired of lugging around books, note paper, and decks of playing cards.

Oh, and I do have social skills. I'd just rather keep to myself than socialize.