What Losing Your Cellphone Does To Your Behavior

Source: https://flic.kr/p/mi3t3

By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

Founding Editor, bSci21.org

When I first arrived to college in 1999, I remember a piece of paper taped to the wall next to my desk.  On the paper was a list of phone numbers — friends, family, and a few other important numbers.

That was before cellphones were widespread.  Even though we made lists of numbers, most of the time you just memorized them.

Fast forward 16 years — everyone has a smartphone.  In 1999 the thought of using your phone for anything but a phone call was inconceivable.  Nowadays, dialing a number is probably the least used feature of all.

What would it be like to suddenly live as you did in the 1990s, but in 2015?  You would be taking a behavioral repertoire suited for one historical era and transplanting it into an entirely different society.

Hope King, at CNN Money, did exactly that…for four and a half months.

It all started as an accident…her iPone 5S was stolen.  She notes “when I came to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to get it back, I decided to prove to this thief (and myself) that I was robbed of nothing — that it would not affect my life in any way.”

Her journey involved public wifi, borrowing phones, and…ok you can see this is actually nowhere close to living in the 1990s, utilizing her iPad as a substitute communication device.  Nevertheless, it is a testament to the world we now live in when having to rely “only on wifi” is seen as an inconvenience.  

Hope says “mainly, we only gain convenience” with smartphones, and notes “the cost of this convenience is a short tether that chains us to this one device, and deprives us of two basic survival skills — courage and resourcefulness.”  

To read more, click on the hyperlink above.

How long have you gone without a cellphone?  Share your story in the comments below.  Also consider subscribing to bSci21.org via email at the top of the page!

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is President of bSci21 Media, LLC, which owns bSci21.org and BAQuarterly.com.  Todd serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management and as an editorial board member for Behavior and Social Issues.  He has worked as a behavior analyst in day centers, residential providers, homes, and schools, and served as the director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Todd’s areas of expertise include writing, entrepreneurship, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Instructional Design, Organizational Behavior Management, and ABA therapy. Todd can be reached at todd.ward@bsci21.org.

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