The Windhoek Observer sent its intern reporters to Grove Mall in Windhoek to get random views about the impact of cell phones in their lives.
Most people in Namibia live a digital life through their cell phones. Many we talked to repeatedly stated that they feel “incomplete” unless they have their phones, charged up and ready to use.
All who we spoke with said they never turn them off and use them in various ways, almost every waking moment.
There are people who buy data bundles before they buy food! Cell phones are everywhere, even in rural areas of Namibia, where soon, the cell phone will overtake the radio as the primary means of getting news.
The people we spoke with all agreed that phone access to the internet and regular calls was vital. However, equally, they commented that non-stop cell phone use can disrupt work performance and intimate moments.
Armando Van Wyk, stated that a cell phone is something that cannot be left behind. “My cell phone is always in my hands, every single second.”
He went on to say that, “As a social media lover, I use that platform to promote my brand by sharing it on Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter.”
When asked whether he could spend a day without his cellphone, he shuddered. “I cannot do that because I’m busy working on improving myself on social pages and I am permanently engaged in online conversations. On the negative side, we are always on our cell phones which limits in-person conversation. But, there is a positive side: communication is easy and information is fast,” Van Wyk stated.
Lourens Mbaoroka, had another view. He said that a cell phone is not a necessity. “I don’t use my phone all the time, I like being with real people and at work, I cannot do a good job AND be on the phone. Of course, cell phones are a great social channel and I use Facebook. But, I could live without it, if I had to.”
Mbaoroka also said, “Spending too much time on social media or talking on the phone can cause problems if you become disconnected from what is actually going on around you. On the other hand, my cell phone allows me to be updated with what is happening around the globe, for instance the recent flooding in Mozambique”.
Aria Metty feels that cell phones play an irreplaceable role in her life. “I use my phone 24/7/365. The first thing I check when I wake up in the morning is my phone. I use it for WhatsApp as I am in school groups; I use it for YouTube and emails plus text and calls. I cannot be without my phone.”
Metty also said, “The negative side is that it can weaken your eyesight due to brightness (as happened to me) and it can be addictive; without it, you will not know what to do.’’
Many of those we spoke with said that they store information on their cell phones that they would not have access to otherwise, like telephone numbers, photos, music or appointment dates.
Tjama Tjinganda stated that his cell phone is his best friend, “When I wake up the first thing I look at is my cell phone. I have everything on it; it is like my whole life! Being on social media is my favourite thing; I also use it to check the calendar as I tend to be forgetful. I also store photos and music.”
We had assumed that those in the arts community would likely be somewhat against rampant cell phone use, but interestingly, we met a local artist, named only ‘Nandohomie’, who told us that with the current generation, a cell phone is a positive thing. “I use my phone every second, even at work (when I am not supposed to). Without it, I feel alone and incomplete. Everything in the world today is digital and we are all a part of this world.”