Cell phones have become amazingly popular around the world. Like an American Express card, we don’t leave home without them. I remember the days when I felt naked if I left home without a pair of earrings. Imagine, an entire day without heavy metals and stones dangling from my lobes. It was unbearable! Now it’s the cell phone. I can go out without jewelry, without combing my hair, without matching shoes. But by golly, if I forget my cell phone, I am turning around and going home to retrieve it!
It’s funny how things have changed. These days, all of the kids have cells. The youngest of our kids have cells. We like to pretend that they need them. As parents, it makes us feels safer that we can contact our child when necessary, at any moment. It gives parents a “sense of security”, no matter how false. Let’s face it folks, when was the last time your kid answered your call? Don’t they usually seem to return your call instead?
I always feel sorry for the teachers. I couldn’t imagine having to deal with grade school kids that are texting during my class. I would have to go old school on them – detentions, demerits, threats of bringing “my gang” to deal with them. I know one young English teacher here in Ankara that has come up with a pretty good plan. She takes the phone and tells the student that they can have it at the end of the week, or they can send their parents in to retrieve it. So far, the students let her keep the phone until the weekend. But what if they chose otherwise? Times have changed since I was a kid. I imagine most parents would stand by their child now and get the phone back! So sad. No lessons to be learned.
I know a Turkish professor who had an opportunity recently to teach in Philadelphia universities. One of her classes had only 6 students. Can you believe they had the nerve to text during her class? This must have been truly frustrating! These were young adults! I find that completely disrepectful and I just wouldn’t stand for it. These students would have been asked to leave my class.
Maybe I’m just a bit old-fashioned. We know that cell phones are causing many disastrous accidents on the roads. Yet we still talk and text while driving. We talk and text while crossing busy streets. We talk and text while dining with friends, as if the person out in cyber land is more important than the person we are sharing the moment with.
Aahhhh, that brings me around to Turkey. I’ll never forget the first time I was having dinner with a dear friend in San Francisco, and she consistently answered calls and responded to texts during dinner. I was completely appalled. This was many years ago, so while it is commonplace now, I wanted to yell, scream, and just get up and leave. Believe it or not, Turkey is worse. The entire society is consumed by the cep telefonu. While walking down the street, I noticed that everyone has their cep in hand. Women don’t even take the time to put them into their purses for fear of missing the next call.
Like home, it’s not just the young adults who are fascinated by their phones, the children have them. The parents have them. The elderly have them. The elderly actually use them here! I have never seen so many senior citizens using cell phones! But what really gets my goat is that it is the norm here to use your phone at dinner, or in a room full of guests.
Imagine this scenario . . .
You are giving a small dinner party in your home. You have about 8 guests in addition to you and your spouse. Your cell phone rings. It’s your cousin. You talk to her almost daily but you don’t want to ignore the call because you just never know . So you answer the call. She’s just calling to chat. In America, we would tell the cousin that we are entertaining and will call her back. I feel confident that more than 99% of Americans would do this although I have not done any testing on it.
In Turkey, I have seen over and over again, this call accepted and the conversation go on for a long time. I have seen the phone brought to the table where the conversation continues, about nothing, in front of all of the guests. I have seen other situations, where the host gets their phone and makes a call, about nothing, in front of their guests. And the real kicker for me came last night. As I was doing homework for an intensive language course and studying for an exam, my husband dutifully at my side helping me with pronunciation and checking my work, a family member grabbed her phone, joined us at the table, and made a lengthy call – ABOUT NOTHING – right next to me. It was as if what I was doing wasn’t important – although I know she didn’t think that like that. Iwas flat out amazed. But I have absolutely no idea what the differnce in thought process is here. How can Turks possibly not think this is absolutely rude? These are people who are otherwise completely polite about everything! I would love to know your thoughts on this! Send a comment!
Hah, hah! I thought I was the only one who had these thoughts. I’ve lived in Turkey 99-05, and again I’m back this year for another 4 years. My first time here I was completely amazed at the number of folks with cells, everywhere, talking about nothing. I’ve also noticed the same with my wife, who’s a Turk, brother-in-law, and both in-laws, will take calls at all times, no matter what we are doing, and talk for an extended time to the caller ABOUT NOTHING. I’ve learned that when my wife takes one of these marathon calls I just rudely interrupt her if I need to speak with her. I figure if you can interrupt my conversation by taking a call then I can interupt your call with my conversation! She never seems to mind if I interrupt.
Bye the way, I love your posts. Isn’t living here the most frustrating/enjoyable adventure?!
Hi Rick and Welcome Back to Ankara! Thanks for reading the blog and sending comments. I’m happy to have more local readers!