PROFILE: Cell phones more than way to say hello

Published 2:51 pm Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It looks as if she’s lost in a world of her own. Changley Copley of Proctorville sits patiently waiting for her fellow Psych 101 classmates at Ohio University Southern to show up for a recent forum at OU’s Proctorville Center.

But she’s not sitting idly. Rather, she’s focusing all her attention on the four-inch long rectangle she holds in the palm of her hand. Tapping on keys tinier than the end of her pinkie finger, she sends out message after message.

Copley is a passionate texter and she’s not alone. Texting is the recent phenomenon that has come to the world via the phone. Cell phone, that is. Texting has become more than a way to stay in touch from time to time.

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Texting, along with all the other options that the simple hand-held phone can do, are the latest obsession in our technology-obsessed universe. And it doesn’t look as if it’s going stop anytime soon.

Copley, now 19, had her first cell phone when she was 14. Then it was a matter of practicality and safety. Her parents bought her one as a way for her to keep in touch and help her out should she hit an emergency. Since then she’s had four more phones and nowadays no longer looks at her phone as just a way to help her out of a tight spot.

Simply, a cell phone offers a fun and enjoyable way to talk to people via texting, play games, answer a quick trivia question and see what’s happening in the world.

“I text all the time,” Copley said.

It’s ironic that an instrument invented to allow two-way oral communication, a chance to hear another human voice and interact with it immediately, is now known as an avenue to accomplish everything but listen.

“It is quicker and you don’t have to listen to their life history,” Copley

their life history,” Copley said about texting. “Sometimes you don’t want to get together. You don’t have to listen to their life history.”

On the day Copley talked to The Tribune about how the use of cell phones have changed she had almost reached the end of her 30-day billing cycle with her provider. Already she had racked up 6,000 messages.

“I have got five days left. It will push to more,” she said, who admits she texts all day long “until I fall asleep. My friends, even my mom.”

Fellow classmate Jessica Best of Chesapeake was 18 when she got her first phone. Now she has a BlackBerry. Originally, Best had a cell because it reduced the hassle of trying to find a pay phone when she was out and about.

“Now I use it all the time,” she said. “I get on the Internet and text all the time. Texting is just quicker. Sometimes you don’t want to talk on the phone. With texting you get it over and done with.”

There are more than four billion mobile phone users around the world with more than 1,000 new customers joining every minute. That compares with only 11.2 million cell phone users 30 years ago.

Then there were only two cell phones per 1,000 population. Those stats come from The Globalist syndication services.

The greatest growth in cell phone lines occurs in Africa where there is an annual growth of 54 percent compared with 24 percent worldwide.

This year text messaging will bring in an estimated $76.5 billion to cell phone providers. In the United States alone there are 2.71 million cell phone users.

Those statistics sound impressive, perhaps implying that cell phone use is serious business and serious business alone. But truth be told, these tiny gadgets are just fun to use.

Best knows that and even has a pseudo-arcade game called “Bricklayer” downloaded to her phone to play when the mood strikes her.

“I do it whenever I am bored like at the doctor’s office,” she said. “(Cell phones) are important for a lot of people. It’s addictive. If they don’t have their phone, they go crazy.”

Heather Lovejoy, a nursing student at OUS, still remembers her first cell phone. It was a purple Sprint she got when she was 15

“All my friends had one,” she said. “I thought I was so cool.”

Now like others in her generation Lovejoy uses the phone to text, check the Internet and play video games.

“(Games) are something to do when you are bored like at the pharmacy to wait for medicine,” she said.

Witness the newest convert to the elaborate cell phone user set: J.B. Miller.

It was last Christmas when Miller, radio personality, morning show anchor and program director for Magic 97.9 radio in Huntington, W.Va., got hooked after trying out the phones of his brother, Bob, and his two nieces.

“I had had phones but never anything that sophisticated,” Miller said. “I was playing with theirs. Once you play with someone else’s for about an hour, I thought this is me. I can copy, paste, and send you an e-mail instantly. It’s like a home office in the palm of my hand. I can’t imagine not having one. I think the technology is unbelievable.”

Miller has even joined the texting generation, finding the quick one-sided method of communication dovetails well with his schedule of early morning live broadcasts on the radio to playing disc jockey for a wedding or a party.

“I love texting and I used to make fun of it,” he said. “And I learned I have a calendar. … My phone beeps when I need to go somewhere. There have been two days I accidentally walked off and forgot it. I would be like a baby without a baby bottle.”