Widener professor tackles cellphone obsession in film
Cellphones have evolved from big and heavy to small and portable, bringing along features that have made them a lifeline for everything from checking email to shopping.
Our dependence on cellphones and how that affects society is the focus of an upcoming documentary by Wallingford resident and Widener University Associate Communication Studies Professor Dwight DeWerth-Pallmeyer.
“Cellular Aftershocks,” the second documentary feature from DeWerth-Pallmeyer, will study the fixation with our cellphones — using Delaware County residents from different generations as the film’s subjects.
“The goal is that you become a master of the cellphone, not that the cellphone becomes your master,” said DeWerth-Pallmeyer. “What you find with any new technology is there are unintended consequences. What we want to focus on is those unintended consequences and some solutions.”
Originally, the film was to focus on 19-year-olds from four different continents, but funding has limited the scope to being the area colloquially known as Delco.
But this was a perfect microcosm for the project, seeing that the county has a very diverse population across age, socio-economic status, race, political affiliation, and other areas.
“In a way it’s like a big city in a small town,” said DeWerth-Pallmeyer. “I’ve lived in four different time zones across the United States and I see an element of everything here in Delaware County … It’s a great microcosm of the United States and the world.
“This is a worldwide phenomenon. I read about this in Africa, Asia, Europe and it’s everywhere, the same issues. Delaware County is just as good as anywhere I think.”
DeWerth-Pallmeyer said “Cellular Aftershocks” will humanize the cellphone fanaticism by following these subjects for its story arc. He recognized that a documentary reaches more students now than written words do.
Ultimately, DeWerth-Pallmeyer is looking to have people put down their cellphones for a little bit.
“Technology is growing at such a fast pace we don’t even have time to breathe, catch up and understand,” he said. “We need to start doing that.”
Widener University Associate Professor of Communication Studies Dwight DeWerth-Pallmeyer, center left, with students, from left, Paul Keenan, Alexus Yang and Ryan Kresky, working on the documentary “Cellular Aftershocks.”