I have had a cell phone since the 1995 ice storm that hit Houston so suddenly the city was frozen within a matter of hours. Hubby couldn't find me anywhere and was scared spitless that I'd frozen to death somewhere on the road between Houston and Needville. As soon as we thawed out, he bought me a cell phone and I have never since been without one. Until recently, however, they were merely communication devices. Now my phone has become a social and emotional lifeline. And recently I've realized that I have become one of the hated abusers.
We have all been subjected to rude people who talk during movies, yell to be heard because they cannot hear in restaurants and stores, and interrupt personal conversations to answer calls. I have reprimanded more than one of my employees for talking on his or her cell phone during work hours because it was impeding productivity. I have walked out of more than one store because the clerk was on a call instead of attending to my purchasing needs. I have fussed at my daughter for texting at the table and talking too loudly in the car. Never in all my born days did I think that I would join the ranks of those uncouth louts. But indeed, I have devolved into a thumb-flapping, socially inept nitwit.
I started Twittering during Hurricane Ike back in September as a way of maintaining communication through the storm. During the ensuing weeks of power outages, long gas lines, and no land-line telephone communications, the ability to quickly and easily get insider information on supply shipments and short gas lines was a Godsend. I kept telling myself that once the storm was over I'd go back to actually talking to people. Like all addicts, though, the more I got the more I wanted until today I find myself unable to resist the need to immediately read and respond to each one of the 50 or so tweets and/or texts I get each day.
It has gotten so bad that my husband has threatened to quit taking me out to dinner, my daughter hates riding in the car with me (oh yes - I even text while driving), and my exercise buddy has banned my cell phone from the racquetball court! I even asked my auto mechanic, who was trying to tell me what repairs were needed, to hold on a minute while I texted a quick tweet reply. AND I WAS PAYING HIM BY THE HOUR!
All of this leads me to wonder: If I, a 52-year-old, relatively sane and stable woman, can become so addicted in such a short period of time, how can we expect our children who have grown up with all this electronic gadgetry not to be reliant upon it? How do we put that genie back in the bottle? There are lots of easy cognitive answers but absolutely no easy curative actions. I don't know of anybody who is willing to go cold-turkey, do you?
I wonder how long it will be before some mental health hospital develops a gadget-withdrawal unit? When they finally do, I have a feeling that I will be one of their first patients. Now excuse me; gotta go get my tweet on!
Peace, Blessings, and GO GO GADGET!
This post was written in participation of Brad Shore’s Cell Phone Users and Abusers blog contest.