Did You Get a New Cell Phone for the Holidays?

Jan 2, 2017 (San Diego) If you got a new cell phone for the holidays, especially if this is a new phone, you are joining. Here is a map from the World Bank showing the growth of mobile devices over the last few years. What it shows in something critical about infrastructure. The growth of cellular mobile services has been the fastest in the global south.


Though in the United States, the growth has been fast. Why does this matter? Cellular phones are changing the way we work, the way we play and the way we interact with the world. They are also changing how politics works.

The first time that political organizing happened, as well as a change of a police story lines, was in Tunisia. In 2010 “Activists in Tunisia used social media to raise awareness of police brutality through videos and photographs. These videos and photographs disproved the propaganda being broadcast through Tunisia’s state media. This generated support in the affluent parts of the country where more people got involved through the use of social media – primarily Facebook- to organize.”

This is critical. We saw this in the developed world as well. Not only did the Occupy Wall Street movement use it to coordinate operations in the United States. So did several movements in Europe such as Los Indignados. In more recent years, starting with Ferguson, a slew of videos of American police have had a very clear effect in the discussion.

How is it affecting work? In the United States, companies are coming up with policies to restrict personal cell phone use in the workplace. At the same time, there are some workers that are expected to be available almost all the time. These are usually company issued phones, and there are some lawsuits already testing the theory that you could be reached all the time.

That said, that phone might be critical for you. According to PEW:


For those who work away from their home-base workplace, the internet and cell phones are key tools.

Among full-time and part-time workers, 21% work outside of their workplace every day or almost every day, and another 13% work outside the office a few times a week. Overall, 41% of workers say they never work outside their workplace.

Among the 59% of employed internet users who work outside of the workplace at least occasionally, half say the internet and cell phones are “very important” to allowing them to do their job remotely, and another 24% say these tools are “somewhat important.” Just 11% say the internet and cell phones are not important at all in allowing them to work remotely.

With your new phone also come some decisions. It is also clear that as time moves on, more technology will be around us. How it affects society and relationships will be a good question. What is also real is that phone and your social media account is a tool, one that can be used for good or bad.

Oh and one last thing. In California, those under 18 cannot use cell phones hands-free and you cannot use yours while driving either. “California has several laws banning the use of cell phones (wireless telephones). The first two laws prohibit all drivers from using handheld wireless phones or cell phones and prohibit drivers under 18 from using hands-free cell phones. A third law bans texting while driving.”

This is part of a national trend to reduce distracted driving. Of course, there are a few exceptions:

There are a few exceptions to the general ban. Handheld cell phones may be used:

  • to make an emergency call to a law enforcement agency, medical provider, fire department, or other emergency service agency
  • by those operating authorized emergency vehicles, and
  • by those operating vehicles on private property.

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