Cell phone culture at AU

Students say cell phones are a necessity of college life

"What if my cat dies?" said junior Cathy Gstattenbauer. "I want to be reachable."

This is one of the reasons she feels the need to have her cell phone with her most of the time, even if she can't use it. Gstattenbauer represents a growing trend of continual cell phone use, not just on AU's campus, but around the world.

"There are often times when I can't pay the bill," Gstattenbauer said. Yet, she still carries her phone with her. At those times she uses it for its time-keeping capabilities since she doesn't wear a watch. Still, Gstattenbauer isn't obsessed with her phone, she said.

"Let's not say 'obsessed,' but I do love it ... it's my baby," she said.

Other students, like junior Sara Zager, don't feel the need to have a cell phone with them everywhere they go. "I take it with me when I need to get in touch with people, but other than that, I don't like to be dependent on it," she said.

Freshman Tyler Hayduk feels the same. "I know when I need it and I know when I don't need it," he said.

Some students think that constant cell phone use can be disrespectful or annoying "especially when I'm in synagogue services and someone's phone rings," said Zager.

Others think taking a call any time lies within the realms of courtesy. Soricelli admitted to having used his cell phone during classes and meals. Still, he only answeres it if it is a call that he has been expecting for a while or from a good friend, he said.

Zager said that she would answer the phone during an inappropriate time if it were her mother calling. Her cell phone rang twice while she spoke with The Eagle, and she declined to answer both calls. Neither were from her mother.

Freshman Kerry Ryden explained her standards for cell phone courtesy. "Anywhere you should be directing your attention to a small group of people, it is inappropriate [to use a cell phone]," she said. Ryden will call anyone who calls her on her cell phone, even though she pays her own bill, unlike some students. At times, she talks for too many minutes. "I go over," she said.

But cell phones aren't just for talking anymore. Innovations allow for special ring tones, text messaging and camera functions.

Gstattenbauer's ring tone is either the "Fraggle Rock" theme song or "Low Rider," depending on who is calling, but she has also downloaded other features.

According to Soricelli, people who download songs for their phones have too much money on their hands. He uses the ring tone that was pre-installed on his phone. "It's one of those classical songs," he said.

Soricelli also says that camera phones are overrated. The picture quality isn't good enough, thus making camera phones pointless, according to Soricelli. Gstattenbauer agreed that camera phones have appeal simply as novelty items. "Just get a camera," said Gstattenbauer. However, others enjoy having the convenience of taking pictures with their phone, which they generally carry with them far more often than they would a camera.

Text messaging is another prominent feature offered in many current cell phone plans. Some consider it an important form of communication, while to others think it lacks purpose. "I don't even think I know how to do it on my phone," Zager said. However, Hayduk uses text messaging on his cell phone more often than he talks. "If I don't have a lot to talk about or just have something simple to say I use it instead of calling," he said.

In addition to attaining phones with interesting inner-workings, many people also like to buy unique cases and covers for their cell phones, which some say is indicative of style and status, like clothes.

Gstattenbauer said that even though she has made many additions to the inner workings of her phone, she hasn't acquired any special outside decorations. She uses the same, now worn, cover that came with the phone. "The inside of mine is cool enough so I don't have to dress it up on the outside," Gstattenbauer said.

"People who dress [cell phones] up are trying to hide the fact that mine is better than theirs," she added jokingly.

But as much as she loves her phone, she says it's better to talk to someone in person. "People forget there are live human beings around them. They try to use cell phones as a substitute," she said. "But still, they do have pretty colors"

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