Gray Matter


Cell Phone Addiction in the Philippines

RT Cunningham | August 5, 2020 (UTC) | Phones

cell phone addictionI have a cell phone, like most other people. Unlike most other people, however, I don’t like to spend a lot of time looking at it. Listening is another story altogether.

Regardless, there are a lot of real cell phone addicts running around, some of them in my neighborhood in Olongapo. At night. Perhaps it’s because they have no life or simply no place to sleep.

Cell Phone Addiction in the Philippines

I can’t tell you the exact cause of any cell phone addiction. I think most of the neighborhood derelicts are addicted to YouTube more than Facebook. This is what I experienced in early 2018.

After one of our many brownouts my DSL Wi-Fi router refused to work. I had to do a hard reset by pushing and holding the reset button on the bottom of it. That fixed things and unbeknownst to me at the time, it reset the router to the default password.

I had had a DSL Wi-Fi router since the end of 2014 and I had changed the password more times than I could remember. This time, I didn’t. I didn’t even think of it. Of course, that was the last time I made that mistake.

A couple of nights later, I turned off the router and heard a bunch of people running outside. I didn’t think anything of it. On the next night, I heard people talking but I couldn’t see them. That meant they were sitting in front of my front fence, invisible from inside the compound.

It was around 2 am and I couldn’t sleep. Out of curiosity, I got up and logged into the router to see how many clients were connected. It was more than 10, but I didn’t count them. There shouldn’t have been more than three - my laptop, my cell phone and my daughter-in-law’s cell phone.

I changed the password and heard the people leave (again). Because my Wi-Fi was no longer “open” to them, I never heard from them again. I found out later they were using published instructions on what my default Wi-Fi password should be.

Victims of Cell Phone Addiction

The people running around at night are called istambay, a Tagalog slang word which translates as unemployed, lazy, inactive. Some are teenagers but some are older adults (in their 30s). I’ve met some of them. They don’t have jobs, but they have cell phones.

They’re not the only victims of cell phone addiction. I have nieces and nephews, living in my compound, who are just as addicted. I’ve seen them spend hours on YouTube, Facebook and Facebook Messenger in the area under the carport in front of my house. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t find any kind of app (or game) that will hold my interest for very long at all.

If cell phone addiction is this bad in my little area of the Philippines, it makes me wonder how bad it is in the country overall.

Photo Attribution: Simon from Pixabay
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in February 2018.

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