Phones crack me up, especially when my college students are constantly texting on them in class and not paying attention to a single thing I’m saying. It’s tiring, probably not as bad as the Broadway actors dealing with horrible audiences whose phones ring during performances, but pretty bad. I think I even read a newspaper article recently about theaters in China using red laser points to single out texters. It’s kind of awful at this point, beyond the loudmouths walking along sidewalks and polluting the soundscape with their extra-stentorian blabbage. I’ve evolved with my phones, starting with the black brick, then the clam shell flip, then the Blackberry and now through several iterations of the iPhone. I refuse to get an Apple ID or use any apps.
In the classroom, already a claustrophobic space that freaks out most students who don’t want to be there in the first place, phones can ostensibly be used for research, but more often than not the student just isn’t paying attention. Via my own research after teaching around four courses per semester, I have discovered that the worst students are usually the surreptitious texters and the best ones are the most engaged. Usually, the texter, quite simply, doesn’t want to be there. What is texting after all but electronic images as a means of escapism?
As a teacher trying to concentrate in front of a classroom audience, I fell that it’s maddening. It’s bad enough that most come in late and unprepared, but then you have to deal with the nervous pen-clickers, the sleepers and the ones so absorbed in their phones that it seems that they simply aren’t able to even socially engage. To conceptualize “participation” is quite foreign to them, even when you stress that it is nearly 30% of their final grade.
Humans are unconscious for the most part and phones give the semblance of connection when in reality they represent nothing but disconnection and distraction. Maybe I should start phoning in my college lectures, just put myself on speaker. They might listen then.