My Corner, Your Corner: The cell phone can be a friend or foe

My Corner, Your Corner - Tony Callaio | April 22nd, 2016 10:39 am

I recently read a quote on relationship advice. It said, “Pay more attention to your partner than you do your cell phone.”

It seems this is the age of the cell phone. As the saying goes, “Times, they are a-changing.”

Oftentimes, when something is introduced, like cell phones, new rules have to be made. Eventually those rules are softened and then, in some cases, eliminated altogether.

Can you recall the controversy of cell phones in school? Initially they were banned. Students were not allowed to carry them during school hours. Over time, school authorities loosened up on the rules.

During a tragedy like the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, having a cell phone in school could be a lifesaver. The devices weren’t as commonplace then as they are now.

Now, even teachers have their cell phones visible on their desks. Texting and Facebook messaging during school is now the norm. Is it right? Is it wrong?

A few weeks ago, Sunday Dispatch reporter Jimmy Fisher wrote an article about Wyoming Area teacher Mike Fanti having his students use cell phones in his classroom. The students used two apps to supplement learning in his social studies classes.

Mobile phones are used for communicating, but these phones are miniature computers. Cell phones can, in most cases, perform the same functions as a desktop or laptop computer. It’s really a valuable tool, as in the case or Mr. Fanti’s classroom.

Remember World Book Encyclopedias? They fell by the wayside – a thing of the past. Students today have no clue what an encyclopedia is. I could remember a door-to-door salesman coming to our house to sell a set of those valuable books. Who remembers the gold leaf top of the pages?

I’ll bet the phone book is destined for the same fate. I’ve seen the damage smart phones and computers have done to the print industry. Magazine and newspaper circulations are down all over the world.

And those who have a smart phone cannot do without them. Look to see how many people are looking at their phones while at a restaurant. It seems the first thing people do when seated is pull out their phones.

OK, I do it as well, especially if I’m sitting by myself. When I’m seated with other people in my party, I try not to use my phone. It is hard because I use my phone more for business, using email and texting to communicate with employers.

Is the invention of the smart phone right up there with the wheel, printing press or fork? Probably, but the downside is we are beginning to lack the one-on-one skill of interacting with each other. I prefer talking to someone face-to-face and my next mode of communicating would be phone calling.

Texting comes in dead last on my list. I really dislike texting. It’s annoying.

Don’t get me wrong — texting has a place in society, but not as a regular mode of communicating. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I’d rather a phone call.

Despite differing opinions, cell phones are here to stay.

One more time

Last week, I mentioned the retirement of Terry Strubeck from the West Pittston Department of Public Works.

Terry doesn’t know me personally and I can’t ever remember having a conversation with him, but when I was approached to mention his retirement, it gave me great pleasure in doing so.

The best part of my job as a columnist is entertaining readers, and if it’s only one reader, then I did my job.

Even without knowing Terry personally, I didn’t have to be that observant to know that Terry was everywhere in this town. He epitomized dedication and good work.

Sometimes when people put in years of service and retire, it’s without fanfare. There are no gold watches, no blowout parties, or even a handshake and a “Job well done.”

When I was told Terry was elated to see him mentioned last week, it made me happy. It’s too bad more isn’t done when one retires.

Once again Terry, enjoy your days of retirement.

Quote of the week

“Make it a rule of life never to regret and never to look back.” – Katherine Mansfield, New Zealand writer.

Thought of the week

“The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.” – David Russell, Canadian performer.

Bumper sticker

“Remember that lost time does not return.” – Ayrton Senna, Brazilian race driver.

My Corner, Your Corner

Tony Callaio

Tony Callaio’s column My Corner, Your Corner runs weekly in the Sunday Dispatch. He can be reached at