Technological third arm – Cell phone

Sabiha Anjum writes about the strange dependency particularly among our youth, as if these personal gadgets for better or worst are invisible technological third arm


My father once said, it took several minutes for him to find a new word from that thick dictionary. However, for us, it is so convenient using a smart phone. Anything is easier to learn from YouTube tutorials, apps.

Personal hand held technology has been our constant companion. For the present generation, technology means not only some hardware and silicon chips but an enhancing power to affect and change our moral values, education, ideals and norms. Albert Einstein once said, ‘It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.’

Image 1 copyIt is undeniable that technology has made our lives comfortable along with bringing some perdurable ominous impacts.  Let’s talk about the impacts of high tech personal gadget using the example of facebook, facebooking. Facebook is not a technology per se. It is a social media platform that we use via different personal gadget from laptop, tabs to cell phone. It ensures our presence in virtual space. Sometimes this question of whether facebook is a technology or a medium makes me think of that great parable, ‘dim age na murgi age (which comes first, the chicken or the egg)? That is a debate for another day.

Nowadays, Facebook is one of the top five visited websites in the world. It seems like almost everybody owns a Facebook id. Making new friends is easy in facebook and that helps people grow their friend beyond boundary but there are some people who are extremely addicted with Facebook. In general teenagers dissipate huge time forgetting their daily chores. Indeed Facebook is a social media where people can connect with friends, family and others.

However, it could become addictive. Let’s take the extreme example of Xania Lgntyeva, a Russian girl. She was celebrating her 18th birthday. Apparently, she was fond of taking extreme selfie to get more like in social media than her friends. So, she climbed a 28 foot railroad bridge to take a selfie and lost her balance, when she fall she grabbed into high voltage wires and was electrocuted. This is an extreme example of facebook addiction.

According to a CNN article written by communication professor Pavica Sheldon,

American children are 2 years old, 90 per cent have an online history; at the age of five more than 50 per cent regularly interact with a computer or tablet device; and between ages 7 and 8 youngsters regularly play video games. The article, said too, that teens text nearly 3,500 times a month, and by middle school kids are spending more time with media than parents or teachers.

This information shows the situation of a developed country decidedly as a developing country we are going to be like that gradually.

Image-2It’s estimated that 79 per cent people of our country (approx) are now using cell phones or wireless devices. And one-third of those people are using so-called smartphones. According to an industry trade group, from June 2009 to June 2010, cell phone subscribers sent 1.8 trillion text messages. That was up 33 per cent from the year before. In other words, most of us spend our days walking around with our noses buried in our cell phones, androids, iPhones, etc. It’s sad to say that due to advancement of technology, people are losing interest in personal interactions. Yes it’s true that technology makes our life easy and it’s necessary in our lives but it has been misused by us over the years. And, while we’re doing that, we’re tuning out the people who are actually in the same room as us. We seem to have long ago crossed the line as to where doing this stuff is appropriate – people take calls while they’re out to dinner, text or check e-mail while on a date, you name it. Some experts say it’s time to take a step back and reassess. They’re reminding people that technology can be turned off, and that it’s important to connect with people in person. They worry that kids won’t know what it’s like to share a story or actually look someone in the eyes. And that’s sad.

image-3According to psychotherapist’s it is occurring because these handheld devices have socially created a trend that privileges virtual communication over social communication. When asked a college student about this dependency on new media technology, she referred to an incident when she was mugged. Her backpack with laptop, class notes all were gone, but her phone was on her hand and the muggers couldn’t take it. Although traumatised, she felt relived. In a similar incident, a student of Dhaka University was totally distraught as they took away his phone. In his word, it was like, ‘as if a part of me is stolen.’

So, there is a strange dependency particularly among our youth that as if these personal gadgets for better or worst are invisible technological third arm.


Sabiha Anjum is a student of Jahangirnagar University. Riasat Raihan and Rumana Fedous Fagun have also contributed to this feature.


Gadgets: Slaves to the photographer?

I could think of something to say like, Gadgets aren’t really that significant.’ Or, ‘Gadgets don’t really matter.’ But let’s be honest. In this era of digitalised picture format, gadgets do matter. At least, to the most of us. I’m not saying it’s because ‘better’ and expensive gadgets guarantee ‘better’ photos, but gadgets do matter when an artist wants to be able to express himself the way he’d like to. So, to me, gadgets are the medium that allow me to be what I want to be. What I want to show. And, how I want to show it. And that doesn’t necessarily mean expensive equipment. It means the equipment that I need and equipment that can be convenient. This equipment can come in all sizes and prices. Gadgets have to be like slaves to the photographer. The photographer must know and believe that he owns the gadget. Not the other way around. Most of the time artists have to deal with the things they have, rather than the things they need. So it becomes an obligation to know your gadgets like they are a part of you. And that is how one can truly make the best use of their gadgets. So the urge to acquire up-to-date gadgets constantly can’t possibly have any good results. Rather, it can harm the artistic and aesthetic authorship of the photographer. Having gadgets that can produce up to its maximum potential requires much work. It requires a form of an understanding between the photographer and their equipment. Otherwise, one could just end up producing ordinary photos with the most expensive of gadgets.

Faysal Zaman

Pathshala South Asian Media Institute


An Activist’s cell phone

In recent times, personal gadgets have also radicalised citizen journalism. Social media activists use hand-held devices in ways that overwrites its intended purposes. From Arab Spring to Shahbagh movement to Save Sundarban, activists’ use of cell-phone challenged the market motives of the technology in question.

During the half day hartal on January 26 for Sundarban, activists went on facebook live when police were brutally beating journalists and organisers on the street. That particular facebook live went viral immediately. Locally and globally, thousands joined online to follow what was happening at the intersection of Projonmo Chattar, Shahbagh.

In 2010, when the Occupy Wallstreet movement began to gain momentum across US, activists used cellphones as counter surveillance strategies, as security forces were cracking down on occupied sites, it was different livestreaming and video footages from streaming helped political organizers to even legally defend themselves in court.

Activists in Nigeria have shown us how it’s possible to use mobile technology to prevent electoral fraud, while activists in the Middle East, have been making use of various mobile applications to broadcast images, videos and more from the protests that have swept the region.

Live streaming, the act of broadcasting a video to the internet on your cell phone in close to real time, is quickly becoming a staple tool of twenty-first century protestors. From Occupy Wall Street to the Egypt election to the Russian election to Save Sundarban movement in Dhaka, activists use cell phones as weapons of transparency: not only documenting but broadcasting events as they happen.

Shovon Das

Daffodil University



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