My young nephew, Josh, lost his cellphone yesterday at the beach. It does not matter now how it was lost. It could have been stolen from the family car where he put it while he was frolicking in the waves or it could have fallen somewhere while he was changing clothes. What matters is that he has lost something that is important to him and he is inconsolable because of it.
For a teenager like him a cellphone is more than a piece of electronic hardware. It is a lifeline to friends and acquaintances. It is the means by which he delves in and keeps in touch with the virtual web that binds and encompasses the world we all live in today. Without it he is, in one sense, naked and powerless, unable to plug in into the pulse of the world.
He is Superman without his superpowers, the Flash without his lightning speed, the Green Lantern without his power ring and Batman without his costume and utility belt. If that is not a tragedy of enormous proportions then nothing is, at least for a young man like him.
To some people, the cellphone is a toy, a piece of technological magic that serves to amuse and entertain them. To others it is a tool to be used, a glorified calculator and communication device that makes life easier and work more convenient. Some see it as a status symbol, something to show off or brag about, a measure of status within the group.
To Josh and his kind in this modern day and age, it is all that and more. It is the magic carpet that enables them to cross vast distances with a click of the fingers and the mystical mirror that shows them what they seek to see and hear.
Cellphone manufacturers should be flattered. To them it may just be pieces of plastic and electronic circuitry cleverly put together. To Josh and his peers, it is the quintessential device that taps into and hums with the rhythm of life itself. To be unplugged, if you will, even for a short while is something too sad to contemplate and a situation too hard to bear.