Written by Tragic Rabbit
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Friday, 14 May 2010

image for Cellphones Now Used More for Goofing Off Than for Calls
What's the point?

Liza Colburn uses her cellphone constantly. She taps out her grocery lists, records voice memos (e.g. walk Fido, break up with that loser Frank), listens to music at the gym, tracks her caloric intake and posts frequent updates to her Twitter and Facebook accounts. In short, she goofs off and wastes time, adding to bandwidth shortages and pointless posts of drivel that litter the Net using her cell phone - especially when she's at work.

The one thing she doesn't use her cellphone for is making phone calls.

"I probably only talk to someone verbally on it once a month," said Mrs. Colburn, a 40-year-old knitting consultant in Canton, Mass, who has an iPhuckoff cellphone.

For many Americans, cellphones have become irreplaceable tools to manage their worthless lives and stay disconnected from the outside world. That does not include talking to fellow humans on them very much.

For example, although almost 90 percent of households in the United States now have a cellphone, the growth in voice minutes used by consumers has stagnated, according to government and industry data.

Instead of talking on their cellphones, people are making use of all the extras that iPhones, BlackBerrys and other smartphones were also designed to do: play games, update grammatically offensive blogs, listen to music on tinny speakers, pay to watch the same televison on a tiny screen that they're already paying to watch on $10k systems at homem and send unsolicited email.

"Originally, like the invention of the telephone itself, talking was the more usual cellphone application," said Dan Hesse, chief executive of Sprint Nextel. "But now it's less than a hundredth of the traffic on mobile networks."

"Handset design has become far less cheek-friendly, and its use far cheekier" Mr. Rubin said. Mr. Hesse of Sprint said he expected that within the next couple of years, cellphone users would be charged by the time they wasted, not by their voice minutes, a prediction echoed by other industry executives.

When people do talk on their phones, their conversations are shorter; the average length of a local call was 1.81 seconds in 2009, compared with 2.27 minutes in 1999, according to CTIA.

Mr. Frechette, 28, editor of Good Luck magazine in Los Angeles, claims part of the reason he rarely talked on his phone was that he had an iPhone, with its notoriously spotty phone reception in certain locales. But in reality, most of his day was spent gaming, downloading porn and swapping short messages through services like Gmail, Facebook and Twitter. That way, he said, "you can, ah, respond when it's convenient."

Others say talking on the phone is intrusive and time-consuming, while others seem to have no patience for talking to just one person at a time.

The general concensus is that Alexander Graham Bell had pretty much wasted his time.

Nicole Wahl, a 35-year-old communications manager at the University of Toronto, estimates she talks on her phone only about 10 minutes a year, and that mainly at her mother's insistance.

"The only reason I ever answer the phone anymore is if I know it's Mom," Ms. Wahl said. "You never know when she might get this hair-brained idea to come down and talk in person."

"The other night she texted me from upstairs to ask a question about her birthday, and whether or not I might have the time to buy her a present instead of emailing a $5 gift certificate," she said with a laugh.

"But I drew the line there.

"I sent my kid upstairs to say 'no chance'."

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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