Phoning It In…

Written by Joan Stevenson—

It’s small. Usually about the size of a pack of cigarettes. Sometimes smaller. You’re never on average more that two feet from it at any given time. You use it for perhaps everything, planning every little detail of your life. What is it? Your cell phone, of course!

Technology is a wonderful thing. It enables us to live our lives in convenience and comfort. But just how attached to it are you? We are glued to our phones. They rule our lives. I see it every day. We worship these bundles of circuits that are our portable portal to the world.

I think back a few short years ago when cell phones were über expensive, so only those who could afford them could get one. There was no such things as texting, Facebook ,or apps so time was spent just making phone calls and that was it. You made your call and got on with your life. But now with a smart phone you can email, text, Tweet, Facebook, video chat, watch movies, transfer files, download music, shop, make reservations, etc. The possibilities are endless.

I worry that the more attached we are, the less we’ll think for ourselves. I saw a recent commercial for the iPhone where a young man uses the Siri function to buy a guitar, continues to use Siri to teach him how to play it, and eventually he asks Siri to call him a “rock god” after landing a gig.

My thought was what would he have done if he didn’t have that phone? Just sat at home and not done anything? The poor kid would have had to go to the music store and pick out a guitar by himself. Oh no! God forbid he would have had to actually go to a real person and take guitar lessons to become a “rock god.” Yeah, a “god” that needs microchips to do his thinking for him.

Another commercial features a couple traveling cross country. Good thing they had their iPhone, or else they wouldn’t know where they were going, seeing as how the guy asked for directions just as they were climbing into the car. The commercial made it seem as if they relied on their iPhone for everything and had done NO prior planning or investigation for themselves.

(On a side note about those commercials, there is an interesting lawsuit in motion. A man is suing Apple alleging that the company’s commercials convey a “misleading and deceptive message” about Siri’s capabilities. Read the HuffPo article HERE.)

While I am in awe of the technology, a part of me is scared spitless. Maybe because I’ve seen way too many movies. Every time I see a Droid commercial with that red eye and robotic voice, all I can think is, “Okay, we’re two steps away from Skynet and the phones will be the start of it.”

Whenever I am out and about, I can’t help sitting back and watching people with their technology. It never ceases to amaze me. Everyone hunched over texting, Facebooking, downloading apps, playing games, etc. Talking AT each other instead of TO each other. Sometimes actually missing out on the events they are there to witness.

It is disconcerting to see people hunched over watching or playing with their phones instead of looking at each other and talking to each other. Their faces alight with a small eerie glow as they grunt to their companions. Next time you go out with your friends, just stop to note how quickly the phones come out. Or perhaps they already were out.

I’m no exception, I guess. Even with my little clam shell flip phone I can text, email, change my Facebook and Twitter statuses, and do limited web surfing. But though I can do that, I am not enslaved. I do admit to pretending to text or make a call to get out of awkward social situations, but maybe I also have a little iPhone envy. When I was a kid I always wanted a Swiss Army knife. (Well, I still kind of do.) An iPhone is pretty much an electronic Swiss Army knife with all its bells and whistles. Or maybe it’s because an iPhone hovers somewhere in that magical geeky, heavenly place between a Communicator and a Sonic Screwdriver.

But I ask you, just how addicted are you to your phone really? Have you ever wondered? Can you get through the day without texting, Facebooking, Tweeting, or other data activity? Here’s a few questions to see just how attached you are. (By the way, these questions are taken from Alcoholics/Narcotics Anonymous quiz to test for addiction. I just substituted phone or text in the appropriate places.)

Do you text alone when you feel angry or sad?
Does your texting ever make you late for school or work?
Does your texting worry your family or friends?
Do you ever text after telling yourself you won’t?
Do you ever forget what you did while you were texting?
Have you ever been in trouble because of your texting?
Do you ever get headaches or have hangovers while texting?
Have you ever tried to stop or control your phone usage?
Does phone usage interfere with your sleeping or eating?
Have you ever lost friends because of your texting/phone usage?

If you answered yes to at least 5 of these questions, you might have a problem. Before someone drags you off to phone rehab kicking and screaming, I challenge YOU to take control!

I bet you that you can’t go, say, oh let’s make it an easy 24 hours without using your phone for anything other than a phone call. No reading news on EDGE. No trolling for cute boys on Grindr. Can you do it? Is the very idea causing sweat to pop out on your brow? Yeah, you got it bad!

But 24 hours isn’t long. It’s just one day. You can give it up for one day, can’t you? Come on. You might actually enjoy your day and get more done without having your fingers furiously working on that tiny keyboard. Who knows, you might actually get out of the habit and enjoy more actual interaction with your friends and family. I challenge you to actually have REAL words with friends!

Give it a shot. You’ll be surprised at how good you will feel, and how much more you can do when you don’t have a phone welded to your hands. I know it may be difficult; I went through a similar separation when I had to wean myself off of my computer. I take a few days during the month where I don’t touch the Internet. No surfing, blogging, or email. I definitely feel better for it. It’s like being able to breathe free.

So go on, do it. Reconnect with the world around you. You won’t regret it. Tell me how it goes; I’d love to hear some of your withdrawal stories!

Joan Stevenson is an entertainer in the metro Detroit area. Find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @Lady_J_8 #theworldaccordingtojoan. Joan also has a podcast at and on Tumblr.

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