Friday, October 19, 2012

What your cell phone says about you

Cell phones. Smart phones. It’s hard to remember the days—a few years ago, really—when we fumbled through our busy lives without phones equipped with alarms and calendars and global positioning devices. They do so much for us. They say a lot about us too. I recently read about a guy at MIT who gave out 100 free mobile phones for a PhD project and then charted them over the next few months to examine how they were used and what the data revealed about the users. He did not listen to the calls. He only wanted the numbers, duration, time of day and location of calls. You probably know your cell phone works off towers and those signals ping off of other towers at an alarming speed as we move around the planet. You can’t go anywhere with your phone on that can’t be tracked later by an enterprising investigator. We seldom think about the information our cell phones record. By the end of the MIT study, the data revealed what time the phone users woke in the mornings, where they worked, where they shopped, what they bought, their best friends, vacation destination, favorite restaurants and hobbies. That made me wonder—coz I’m a writer and we wonder about stuff the rest of the world doesn’t care about—what would happen if I became the focus of a criminal investigation. What would my phone say about me? What would authorities discover that might help build a case against me? Here are my top three. 1. I spend a lot of time on the highway between Pike, Jackson, and Meigs Counties in southeast Ohio. Lots of places to dispose of evidence on those windy, hilly back roads and byways, btw. 2. I use that time to catch up on phone calls, mostly to my mother. 3. I never forward friends’ emails, even if said emails guarantee untold wealth and worldwide fame, and I delete the same friends’ pics of their grandkids without even looking at them. Now it’s your turn. What three things would your phone reveal should you turn to a life of crime?


Molly Noble Bull said...

I'm shocked. You mean to tell me you deleted photos of my grand kids?
As to my cell phone, I hate cell phones. I hate texting. Therefore, you will never learn a thing about me from my cell. I haven't recharged the thing in six months.

Teresa Slack said...

Actually, Molly, not having a cell phone probably says just as much about you...esp not charging it for 6 mos. A criminal psychologist would have a field day evaluating a murder suspect who shunned technology. Hmmm, maybe there's a plot idea in there.

Dawn M. Turner said...

Since I'm not chained to a "smart" phone, I don't use my phone for anything but phone calls, and I prefer to keep it that way. No texting, no email, no internet surfing. I abhor texting (and the horrible spelling & grammar that goes with it). Email and internet? That's what my laptop are for. The only things anyone tracking my phone would learn about me?

1 - I don't talk on the phone much, but when I do, I talk LOTS. Conversations are infrequent, but they are LONG when they do occur.

2 - Related to point #1 - I talk to my mother almost every single day. :-)

3 - I don't travel much. In fact, I only leave town every couple of weeks to go to a neighboring town for shopping and errands and then home. Woohoo... LOL

Dawn M. Turner said...

Oh, and maybe #4 - I don't answer calls from any number I don't recognize or isn't programmed into my phone with a name. So anyone calling from an unknown number has to leave a voice mail. Otherwise I blow them off, assuming political call or telemarketer.

Caroline said...

Well, I use my phone minimally. Church folk and family and friends. That's it. My favorite? Texting son #2. A CI would get a lot of info from son & I talking about my grandson. :)

Teresa Slack said...

Thanks Dawn & Carole for posting. I'm sure they could build an equally fascinating profile about us infrequent phone users. I'm getting better about taking my phone with me & keeping it charged, but I don't like being "chained" to something either.

Connie Almony said...

You'd learn I'm cheap. I have well over $200 worth of minutes accumulated on my pay-as-you go cell phone. You'd also learn I spend a lot of time at home. Work from home, so does my hubby and I homeschool. You're better off calling the land-line with us. Hubby doesn't even have a cell. This will change soon, but it suits us well for the season we are in right now.
Also, love to know there is someone else out there braving not sending the "chain" emails!!!