Whether you’re a social butterfly, a mama’s boy or a computer geek, a cell phone may make your life at Yale much easier.
Many freshmen get or bring phones to school at the behest of their parents. But cheap plans with hundreds of free minutes entice these Yalies to stay connected to anyone and everyone at all times — not just Mom and Dad.
Hansel Tookes ’03 said for him, the “major purpose” of having a cell phone is to allow his parents to reach him more easily, but he uses his phone mostly to call his friends at Yale.
“It’s my primary mode of impersonal communication,” he said. “[But] I find myself calling home all of the time with a cell at my disposal. I talk to my sister and my best buds from home all of the time, too.”
Particularly strong ties with home can cause problems for those using Yale’s long distance plan, as Keely Robinson ’05 discovered. She said she thinks the wonders of cellular technology would reduce the high charges her daily calls home and frequent conversations with friends in other states have run up.
“My long distance bills have been pretty ridiculous,” Robinson said. “It would be way more cost-effective for me to get a cell phone plan with free long distance that charges like $40 per month because as it is now, I’m paying $80 a month.”
Along with the savings of a nationwide long distance plan, the convenience of having one’s own phone rather than trying to share one with multiple suitemates draws some freshmen to Verizon, Cingular and AT&T.
“I have Cingular, which seems to get great reception everywhere on campus, [and is] definitely better than Sprint, which is awful in New Haven,” James Huerta ’05 advised. “Don’t get Sprint.”
Others favor AT&T or Verizon, but the general consensus seems to be against Sprint.
Cell phone ownership has additional perks, and not just free blocks of anytime minutes.
When wired students make wired friends, what started off as a way to strengthen ties with home often comes to serve as a link to a student’s social network.
Tookes, for example, said all of his friends have cell phones. And some students stay connected constantly.
“There’s this girl in my English class who says she’s mastered the ‘pinkie wave’ for walking and talking on her phone,” said Amber Schmidt ’05.
Tookes, too, described himself has “wired everywhere but where it’s improper.”
The exact definition of “improper” may vary, but most, including the Yale administration, can agree that places such as classrooms and libraries are inviolable.
“They ring in class all too often,” Tookes said. “Nothing is more infuriating than those who think it’s OK to let [their phones] ring in the library — [the] SML main reading room — and actually answer them. Yale should have plaques saying, ‘turn your phone off or on vibrate.’ People definitely abuse cell phones and there is nothing more obnoxious.”
In some eyes,there are other places cellular technology should never go.
Brendan Kearny ’05 said he dislikes cell phones because he thinks their owners abuse them to “try to look cool and act connected.”
Kearny said phone overuse on trains and other small public spaces bothers him the most.
“[Users] monopolize the silence, including everyone else in a conversation that’s really inane, really stupid usually,” he said, giving “Hi, I’m on the train now,” as an sample introduction to an inane conversation.
But cell phones need not be a serious topic.
Mike Menitove ’05 said his phone has given him new insights into the life of one of his friends who has been known to mix alcohol and voice mail.
“He calls my phone and leaves these epic messages with him freestyling or babbling about nonsense,” Menitove said. “Occasionally, he will forget the phone is still on, and I end up listening to him walking around for a few minutes.”
But despite minor annoyances, most people said they would never part with their precious cell phones.
“I don’t care what people think. I love mine,” Tookes said.