Mundane Mobile Maintenance, Entrapment, and Hyper-Coordination

Mundane Mobile Maintenance, Entrapment, and Hyper-Coordination

Jeffrey A. Hall (University of Kansas, USA) and Natalie Pennington (University of Kansas, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8239-9.ch009


This article reviews literature associated with mundane mobile maintenance, entrapment, and hyper-coordination. Licoppe and Huertin (2001) and Ling and Ytrri (2002) first noted the important role of mobile phones in users' personal relationships. Much more than a device to make voice calls, the mobile phone has become highly integrated into the everyday interactions of vast segments of the global population. But with greater connectivity comes the possibility of dependency and anxiety. The integration and domestication of mobile phones can lead to heightened expectations of interpersonal connection and availability, which may result in feelings of entrapment and guilt. By providing a foundation in the earliest research on these inter-related topics and highlighting recent key studies, this article provides a thorough background of research on this subset of mobile communication practices.
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The global adoption of mobile devices has outpaced that of previous technologies and the use of mobile devices will likely continue to increase into the future. Mobile phones are cheaper than earlier technologies like computers, while having the added benefit of being more portable and more accessible. As technology has and continues to progress toward greater digital connectivity and versatility, one of the most critical functions of mobile phones is social connection (Katz & Aakhus, 2002). Although Europeans more quickly adopted short messaging services, or text messages, compared to Americans in the early 2000s due to pricing differences (Ling, 2004), the rise of mobile technology in America has been swift and transformative. Between 2006 and 2008 the number of text messages sent by Americans increased by 450% (Nielsenwire, 2008), and continued to increase through 2010 (Pew Internet, 2010). According to the most recent statistics, 90% of Americans have a cell phone and 58% have a smartphone (Pew Internet, 2014). The addition of each technological function, from voice calls to text messages, and from email services (like Blackberry) to Facebook and Twitter, creates new opportunities for social connectivity. New smart phone applications such as Snapchat and Tinder provide previously unimagined ways to connect socially with friends and strangers alike. The social purposes of mobile technologies are not soon to abate or retreat, but rather are likely to become broader and more entrenched into users’ daily lives as more applications and functions become available.

Some have argued that mobile technologies inextricably direct users toward social connectivity, often referred to as “perpetual contact” (Katz & Aakhus, 2002). Indeed, a recent Pew Internet (2014) report states that “67% of cell owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating,” and “44% of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night.” Rather than focus on the use of mobile technologies for instrumental or informational purposes, the focus of this chapter is on the social and relational consequences of this perpetual contact.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Irony: Incongruity between two opposing alternatives made possible by the same set of forces or circumstances.

Entrapment: The experience of feeling guilt, anxiety, or stress to respond and to be available via a mobile device.

Mundane Mobile Maintenance: The use of mobile devices to maintain relationships through coordination, small talk, and general contact.

Mobile Maintenance Expectations: The degree to which individuals expect relationship partners to engage in mundane mobile maintenance on their mobile device.

Relationship Expectations: The desired or ideal conduct or characteristics of relational partners in the context of a friendship or romantic partnership.

Dialectics: The constant push and pull between a variety of opposing forces that influence human relationships.

Hyper-Coordination: The experience of enhanced, anxiety provoking relational dependence enabled through communication with a mobile device.

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