By Tareq Neman
Is it the time to change the name of the cell phone to swank phone? Is it right that we are not communicating anymore? Will the cell phone corrupt our children and threaten our values? How are you Diala? I just called to tell you that I have bought new sexy red cell phone and all girls will be mad about me when I use it. Hello, Eliot. I hope you like my new cell phone, do you notice that my voice is so sexy through this new cell phone? This dialogue was not taken from a TV show, but is an expert from a long phone call between Diala and her friends when she bought her new cell phone. Such calls are routine in the life of Sari, who likes to show off in front of his friends and girls his purchase of the latest hot cell phone on the market no matter how expensive it is, as long as the color matches his new suit. Diala and Sari are members of the cellphonic generation who buy cell phones to match their clothes and cars. They feel like James Bond when they buy new expensive technology even if they don’t know how to use it. “I like when I see the admiring looks in others’ eyes towards me,” Sari said. Sari likes when others talk about him and about the several kinds of cell phones that he has. He is sure that girls will gather around him and become big fans as he changes and buys new cell phones. Status symbol Cell phones have become a necessity of modern life. Masa a friend of Sari’s and a student in Teshreen University, expressed her dislike for her old unfashionable cell phone. “It is not attractive,” she said. “When I use my cell phone in front of my friends the only thing that I hear from them is sarcasm, like ‘What on earth is that a cell phone or did you get it from the museum’ and ‘Even my 90 year old grandmother wouldn’t use your cell phone’. Most of the people around me are obsessed with appearance. They judge people according to their clothes and how new and expensive your cell phone is. Your cell phone will define how much respect they should show you.” Murhaf, a student in the Faculty of Literature in Damascus University agrees with Masa. “We have a new deadly disease which is called cellphonic. It is about being sensitive to the kind and price of the cell phone that they use. The dangerous thing is that this disease is spreading into the poorer class of people too. They try to buy expensive cell phones whatever it takes, even if it is at the expense of necessities.’ “The first question that his new girl friend asked was ‘what type of cell phone do you have and what color,” his friend added. “I think that basic and essential life matters such as love, engagement and marriage now depend on the class of the cell phone and the price of it, so poor people like me spend all they have to have new classy cell phones to give the impression that we are rich and belong to high society.” “For me, it is good that the type of cell phone is considered a status symbol,” Marowan, a cell phone salesman said. “I noticed that there are a lot of people who will pay all the money that have even though they may be broke after, just to get the newly released cell phone. Cell phone are becoming so expensive and it’s so hard to get some brands, that you have to pay more than 500 dollars to get one, while you can buy a good standard cell phone by paying just 30 dollars. I offer all kinds of cell phones of all brands. I know that when the manufacturers release a new class of some cell phone the old class will become shameful for the user and he feels obliged to change it and buy the new one to keep himself up to date in front of his friends.” Moral degradation Cell phones are an opportunity to show off for some, while they are an annoyance for others. Teachers in Syria used to forbid students from using their phones in the classroom or even on school grounds. Cell phones create conflict between teachers and students. Students have been known to take videos of themselves making sarcastic comments about the teacher. There have also been incidents of student exchanging photos and videos with sexual content during the class. This phenomenon forced the ministry of education in Syria to issue a decision banning students from using cell phones in schools, which was met with protest from parents of some upper-class students. According to Rim Social Guide in Aleppo “most cell phone users are using it to show off and exchange sexual contents. She asserted that this phenomenon is a main cause of the moral degradation. Dr. Halym Asmar, a sociologist in Aleppo University, suggests that the main reasons behind the cellphonic phenomenon are “the desire to be unique and consumerism. According to Asmar, the consumerism that is invading our country is a result of the huge financial explosion that took place at the beginning of this century. The modern technologies we use nowadays are the result of huge global developments and achievements over the course of the last centuries. “The problem is that we as Arabs did not contribute to this rapid development so we use it as we use food, just for consumption.” Dr. Hanan Naayem, a psychologist, says that we should discuss this phenomenon on two levels, rapid technological development on the one hand and social attitudes towards technology as a complementary element of modern life. She warns that “entering the consumer market without understanding the real consequences of our choices poses a danger that could drag our society to rely on appearance and showing off to satisfy needs.” The cellphonic phenomenon is a grave danger for the coming generations, for whom it will be a priority to have expensive cell phones at the expense of learning and higher intellectual pursuits.