“I’m in the phone booth, it’s the one across the hall … If you don’t answer, I’ll just ring it off the wall.”
Bit of a creepy start but don’t worry I’m not really stalking anyone! But if I was the recipient of Blondie’s phone call I would be a bit worried. When you read the lyrics of Blondie’s 1978 classic there is both a clear longing to talk but also a clear indication that she feels she has the right to demand attention. It makes me wonder how this song might have been written if Blondie was writing it in today’s context.
Whilst phone boxes (booths to our American friends) were a feature of my childhood, the smart phone has now taken over. Yet in some ways, change the technology and Blondie’s song is even more relevant.
The smart phone allows even more people to demand our attention on an almost twenty-four-hour basis. We now don’t just get calls requiring our response, but texts, emails, social media notifications and many more ‘pings’ to let us know someone is demanding our attention.
But just like Blondie’s demands on her partner in the song are not that healthy, us being on call to the demands made of us through our smart phone are also not a healthy development. Recent research published by the Radiological Society of North America has suggested the demands our smart phones make on our attention are changing the chemical composition of our brains.
When we have our phone on us all the time, we are more prone to be in a high state of alert igniting our fight or flight responses. Further, when we respond to our phones to lighting up, scientist have found a ‘switch cost’ effect where we lose time and waste brain power switching between tasks.
So, perhaps we might just be better off putting our phones away and letting them ring off the wall. An interesting thought which, well, also demands our attention!