Life & Culture

Open Thread Update: Phone Fatigue

Cellphone frustrations were a hot topic for readers, especially concerning cellphone etiquette – or lack of it.

There were fewer comments than usual, but they were mostly longer, well-thought out….and annoyed with the assumed primacy of cellphones over any other type of communication.

Cellphone peeve #1: The Medical Profession

I”m not the only one annoyed that medical staff ignores patient requests and calls/leaves messages on cellphone numbers, even when we specify landlines. Reader Diana put it most thoroughly and specifically.

…”the medical profession is completely unsympathetic to life’s niceties. Deal with this now or lose the appointment or do without the medication!”


Cellphone Peeve #2: Cellphones over people

Several readers – Diana, Cee, Ellen and Pamela –  bemoaned the growing instinct to ignore the person in front of you in favor of the phone.

“If I am out with friends, it is because I want to see them and converse with them, not watch them while they text or look at pictures they have on their phones.”


Cellphone Peeve #3: What it’s doing to us

While we can commiserate about cellphone issues (link to a previous article about them here), some readers pointed to bigger and more troubling issues…including phone addiction. Jonathan, Pamela, Cee and Diana sounded the alarms over what the obsession with cellphones is doing to friendships, society and our minds.

“…life is too important and exciting to have it constantly interrupted by bells, beeps and bull.”


We’ll keep this thread open for a while to give others a chance to weigh in.  Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments!

Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send your suggestions for Open Threads to her at

Photo by Psk Slayer on Unsplash


10 responses to “Open Thread Update: Phone Fatigue

  1. I found it very ironic that right after this open thread there was an announcement about how to use Tik Toc. I would like (probably unrealistically) for people to use their phones less and interact more in person.

  2. How interesting that I come across this topic this afternoon, as I was out before and waiting for the traffic light to turn green. Diagonally across the intersection was a young man, who had 2 nice dogs on leashes, one small, the other larger. His phone was up near his face, he never, for one second, glanced at the dogs, who were well behaved. I don’t know if they were both his or if he was a dog walker, but either way, how sad. He was definitely not in the moment of being out with two lovely dogs and the poor dogs might as well have been invisible as receiving any sort of communication or loving treatment from him. When the light turned in his favor, he started moving like a zombie, phone still in his face.

  3. I was in a group with a woman who shared that she couldn’t bring herself to turn off her phone at night. I was in a bird sanctuary with a friend who couldn’t understand why I was upset that she was on the phone. I watched a parent in a restaurant with their children and didn’t get off the phone even after the food came. I think these people are addicted.
    I haven’t allowed myself to become so attached to my phone. I think life is too important and exciting to have it constantly interrupted by bells, beeps and bull.

  4. My career was in Telecommunications so my phone is very important to me. This does not stop me from speaking to people and using social media because I have a very large family that not only lives in the US but the UK as well. Texting is a great method of communicating when you are planning on meeting someone or just need to to shoot off a brief message as well as receiving messages from your Pharmacy concerning a proscription renewal or pickup.. I have been told by my Grandkids’ that they no longer use email and Facebook has been replaced with Instagram, both of which are owned by the same company.

  5. Good morning , Virgo. I try to confine my iPhone viewing to when I am not with people. I personally find it rude when people keep looking at their cell phone and it makes me feel as if I am not important enough to the people I am with. What I do use the iPhone for is communicating with other caregivers and writing caregiver emails and caregiver posts as I am a writer who had two books and several essays published in the last three months and part of what I feel I have to do is let people know what I think and do—I write humorous how to books, pieces and poetry Import to help lighten other people’s’ (caregivers’) loadsCheers . Ellen

  6. Yes, there is cell phone addiction. No doubt about that!

    I’m 70 and i still work 32 hours a week. A few months ago, I was out with my boss, his wife and a few co-workers for a staff lunch. My boss and his wife were sitting next to each other and they were texting-EACH OTHER. What the Hell?!

    If I am out with friends, it is because I want to see them and converse with them, not watch them while they text or look at pictures they have on their phones. No one, unless they are a doctor/surgeon on call, needs to be glued to their cell phone constantly. Mine is always in my purse, turned off. It is only on if I am expecting a call.

    After 4 years of friendship, I stopped seeing a woman who was constantly on her phone when we were out. No matter how many times I asked her to turn it off or put it away, she ignored me. Most of the time she was either texting with her teenage daughter or else she was playing Pokemon. This woman is in her late 40s. I do not play online or video games but I believe there is a time and a place for them- when one is alone.

    Same with going for a walk with someone. Why is there a need to keep stopping to take pictures on the cell phone?! Walk, talk, enjoy who you are with, enjoy where you are and be in the moment. If you feel you absolutely cannot leave the house without your phone, at least keep it turned OFF and in your bag or pocket.

    I cannot stand walking down a city street surrounded by people who act like zombies because they are not looking at where they are going or what is around them. They are moving at the pace of sleepwalkers because they have their faces in their cell phones.

    I believe young people’s attention spans and their ability to write and communicate effectively are being negatively affected because they cannot pay attention to anything longer than a text message.

  7. I think the technology of the smart phone (not just iPhone but also the less expensive Android brand) is trying very hard to get people to pay attention to their product ALL THE TIME. And to a certain extent, it’s working. My phone makes certain sounds to let me know when someone calls, texts, or emails me. Since that’s the way I stay in touch with my family and with my doctors’ offices, and since I seem to see a lot of doctors these days, I get a lot of notices. Mostly these are medical – a reminder of an upcoming appointment, a cancellation of an upcoming appointment, a medication is ready to be picked up at the pharmacy, the pharmacy cannot refill a prescription because the doctor is not responding, the pharmacy is out of that medication and there will be an unusual delay in refilling my prescription. I also manage my husband’s appointments and medication, so I get all the same sorts of calls and texts from his doctors’ offices and pharmacy. These all need attending to, as well, often immediately, if not sooner! It’s unfortunate that the in-person conversations I would much rather spend my time engaged in must be constantly interrupted in this way, but the medical profession is completely unsympathetic to life’s niceties. Deal with this now or lose the appointment or do without the medication! Sigh! It’s not really the fault of the phone. The phone company is no doubt delighted at all the business and so is the phone manufacturer. But, at least for me, the blame lies elsewhere.

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