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Well are you?

If a text message comes in, does your world immediately grind to a stop so you can read it?

If a call comes in at a bad time (say, while you’re on a roller coaster), can you marshal the strength to ignore it, or will you succumb to the siren song of your ring tone?

When you sit at a restaurant waiting for lunch, is the urge to check your e-mail so overwhelming that, to quote the Borg (Star Trek) “resistance is futile”? (Never mind the fact that you just checked it before you left)

I see it all the time – smart phone addiction. And I truly think most people don’t even realize they’re addicted. (Isn’t denial the first symptom?)

Who am I to preach about this? I’m an outside observer to the smart phone world, much to the annoyance of anyone who tries to contact me regularly. Although I have a Droid, it doesn’t rule my life. In fact, most days it’s a coin toss as to whether it’s even with me (frustrates the snot out of my office staff, but hey, that’s what I pay ‘em for).

On those occasions it does find a place in my pocket, I am just as likely to ignore an incoming call as to take it (hey, if it’s important they can leave me a voicemail).

Again, just ask my staff to call me sometime :)

Overall, I participate in less than 20 cellular calls a month and between my two hands I have enough fingers to count the number of text messages I thumb out each year. I will admit to using it to check e-mail, but that’s mostly when I’m on the road and don’t feel like booting up my laptop.

Mostly I use it as a portable computer – I have a handful of apps that help me with my business, exercise (GPS distance tracking), and my photography. But even those don’t enjoy regular usage. The phone is a tool, that’s all. I use it when I need it.

However, I think a growing majority of people have started to think of their wireless phone less as a tool and more as a form of addictive entertainment. After all, when was the last time you saw a 22 yr old girl driving alone without a cell phone stuck to her ear? A unicorn running down the freeway would be more likely.

Just sit back next time you’re at a restaurant or the mall and observe what happens when people have more than a minute or two of downtime to kill. Heck, you already know what happens – the phone comes out. They may send a text message, they might play a game, maybe check the latest news (you know, in case something earth-shattering has happened since they last looked – 5 minutes ago) – ANYTHING to keep from being the slightest bit bored for 30 seconds.

Seems like startlingly high percentage of people simply can no longer cope unless they have something to keep them entertained. And phones do this exceeding well. Too well in fact.

Case in point -Do you fly? Ever notice what happens when the plane lands? A hundred cell phones spring to life. Text messages are zipped off, Twitter and Facebook are ablaze with accounts of the flight, restroom lines, etc., calls are made, and you can almost feel the collective sigh of relief from the addicted. Ahh, my phone is one again…

Let’s look at the types of addiction:

First off, there’s the text addict – easy to spot due to the large, overdeveloped thumbs and the tendency to look ever so slightly cross eyed.  The  “Bliiip” of an incoming text message is like crack cocaine to ‘em. There’s no way to resist, and they wouldn’t want to try.

Personally, I’d like to grab their phone at the moment of notification. It would be interesting to see how long they could resist committing some kind of felony against me to get their phone back. I mean, is the message coming across really that important? Does it really demand the amount of urgent attention it seems to get? Really? I’m a firm believer that 90% or more of the text messages that scamper across cell phone screens are pure fluff. How do people get so terribly addicted?

Then there’s the internet junkie. They spend hours at a time on the computer at home, so these internet-enabled smart phones are a way for them to leave the house without developing those embarrassing withdrawal symptoms. They are in an unending loop of constantly checking sites for the latest news, sports, weather, forum updates, and who knows what else. Sure, if they’re visiting WorldStart we can forgive ‘em, but if not, what could possibly be so important that it commands so much of their attention?

Speaking of the internet group, there’s a sub group of Facebook and Twitter fans that seem to think the world actually cares that the $20 hamburger they just scarfed down at Disneyland gave them heartburn. I think I speak for everyone when I say we can live without every detail of your life. Really, we can.

Hmm.. Who’s next? Oh, yeah, the game crowd. They are forever downloading this game or that game, and tend to play any time there’s a few spare seconds to kill. Talking to them is a real pleasure, isn’t it?

You: “How’s it going?”

Gamer: “Huh?”

You: “I asked how it was going.”

Gamer (fingers scrambling around screen): “Sorry?”

You: “Forget it”

Oh, yeah, almost forget – the cell phone addict group. The ranks of this group are shrinking by the hour, but there are still a few holdouts completely fascinated by the fact you can make phone calls from just about anywhere with your phone. And they take advantage of those unlimited minutes at each and every opportunity. Unfortunately, those opportunities do don’t disappear once they are inside a public bathroom stall. Maybe I’m spending too much time on the road lately, but bathroom stall teleconferences are starting to get tiresome.

OK, OK, maybe I’m being a bit harsh (still not backing down on that bathroom thing though), and although It seems like I’ve taken the long slow backroad to it, I am coming to a point.

Aren’t WE supposed to be the masters of these things? Aren’t they supposed to be at OUR service?

Of course, these phones CAN and do make life easier, and I’m glad to have mine. However, I don’t I like what they’ve done to people. It’s amazing to me – people spend all kinds of time planning a vacation, a getaway, or an outing – only to spend it ignoring everyone and everything around them so they can play with their stupid phones.

I’ve literally watched people in a national park stroll by an amazing vista, completely absorbed with what was on the screen of their phone. Earbuds in place, eyes glued to the screen, missing everything happening around them.

Last time I checked, life was for living, not for sending text messages.

So, if you think you might be addicted, try this – leave your phone at home for a week. If that sentence seems about as outrageous as me suggesting you swan dive from an 80 foot cliff, you my friend are addicted to your phone. Seek therapy.

I promise you, there’s more to life than what’s contained in that little 2×3 inch screen of yours. Take a week off and check out the real world. It’s the best, most immersive, life-like 3D experience you’ll ever have.

So, what’s your take on all this? Have I taken one too many dives in the shallow end of the pool or am I right on the money?

Or did I lose you back there at the hands of an incoming text message…

~Steve

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20 Responses to “Are You Addicted To Your Phone?”

  1. Irene says:

    AMEN!!!!!

    • Carole says:

      I loved what you said Steve…..I enjoy everything that you say in Worldstart and in Blogs….I use my cell for emergency”s and
      that is it. I laugh so much at people walking down the street or anywhere and it looks like they are talking to themselves.
      Really amuses me.
      You are really an entertaining guy and I really love reading anything you comment on!
      Take care and be good!
      Carole
      PS/ I can’t tell you how many times I have used your tips….I love Worldstart….read it everyday and when it appllies to me
      belive me I use it.
      Again keep up the Gr8 work!

      • Gail says:

        I also only use mine for emergencies. But I confess I am an internet junkie and am on here 10 to 15 hours a day. This is why I stick to a tracphone, lol. If I get one with more features I will be doing all Steve is saying here and I will be even worse than I am now, lol. And Steve, my 2 teens are exactly like you talk about here! One son did not know for 3 months that he was going to be an uncle due to the fact that he was too busy texting on his cell and he wasn’t listening to me when I told him! 3 months later he happened to hear one of us mention the coming baby and he was livid that we “never told” him, lol!

  2. Ed says:

    Irene beat me to it.

  3. janet says:

    I work in convienance store, it is sooo annoying when they come in are talking on the phone, and giving me an order, dont blame me if your food isnt the way you wanted it because your “uh huh” to the person on the phone may be interpreted to me as a yes that you wanted extra hot peppers on that sandwhich.

  4. Dwight says:

    Steve , your right on the money ! You can see people driving down the road , on the cell phones , or texting . I have a cell phone ,but it’s not a ” must have ” thing , I only have it for work , as I’m a big rig driver , and that piece of work , nothing else . Sure , I use it at home , maybe two or three times , a month , but it’s good to have it , but you can live without it too . If your life is only on a cell phone , what kind of life do you have ? I hate it when I go to a movie , and there are at least three or four cell phones that go off . And those people answer it while the show is going on ! Or , at an doctor’s office , or at the hospital , and you can READ a great big SIGN , that says ” Please Turn Off Your Cell Phones ” , but , in three or five minutes of sitting down, you can hear somebodies cell phone goes off . Then that owner of the cell phones sits there and answers it , with the ” Hello ? HI !!!!!! BLAH , BLAH , BLAH… ” , NO RESPECT , NONE OF IT . The other day , I went to get my hair cut , and there was a mother and son , who was about maybe 10 , or so , and had a cell phone and playing a game . At ten years old , who would be giving they’re child at that age a cell phone ? It’s was like the cell phones took over the TV as the babysitter .

  5. Poolfarms1910 says:

    I agree, the Bible talks about fasting and it does not have to food. The world will not end if with fast from cell phones up for one day!

  6. Sharon G. says:

    We can have and use cell phones, just not every minute of the day. Cell phones have a botton for shuting them off, or way down so you will not have to hear it ring. And then be able to….good lord talk to someone who is standing or sitting near you…Wow what an idea! : )

    Right on Mike…With everthing you said…And please everyone we should put them to silence when driving, it might just save some lives.

    Have a great weekend folks, and please stay safe.

  7. Kathy says:

    I work in a convenience store and WE ARE REQUIRED to speak to the customer when they come through the door. Well if htey have that phone glued to their ear how are we supposed to greet them? I used to be quiet and just wait on them without interupting. Not any more, we are not allowed to be on the phone while waiting on you so why can’t we have that courtesy back. Oh and the bathroom calls I snicker at them. I do admit to sneaking peeks at my email at work on the phone (No computer at work to check it on) and sometimes passing the time with a game. But other than chatting with my niece to and from work about her day and stuff I don’t talk on the phone 24/7. My niece added me to her account so I could have a way to get help driving rural roads late at night. We keep in touch with my trip to and from work about what is going on with us. We are best friends, last night she fell asleep so I had the radio on full balst and enjoyed it. I don’t have to talk to her but we enjoy chatting.

  8. Kicknbak says:

    Hi Steve,
    I can firmly state that I am not an addict. In fact I still make fun, publicly/openly at times, of the folks walking around in a half daze with a phone stuck in one orfice of their body or another, and completly ignorant of their surroundings. On the highway, department store aisles, etc. etc. etc. acting as if the world going on around them was entirely for their own convenience and didn’t involve other folks feelings or even ‘rights’. I was an old ‘holdout’ just for such reasons, yet we finally broke down three months ago and got our very first cell phone. We use it for emergency calls, or travel mostly, or give it out to only the folks that may need to contact us and we may be tying up our landline with our antiquated ISP and dial up service. We have made 7 calls on it in the 3 months we’ve had it. So, I have to agree with Carole’s post on most of this, we have not let it ‘take’ our time, but instead have used it to ‘save’ us some time.

    In some ways however, it has become a necessity. I don’t know if folks have noticed, but there are fewer and fewer ‘public’ phones out there now-a-days. Even the Super Walmarts are not installing public phones. Phone booths are becoming obsolete as they have only become sources of vandalism anyway. In other words, it is terrible to have an emergency and not be able to find a public phone out there anywhere, without asking if you can possibly use their business phones, and then relying entirely on their good will. With this in mind, we have a cell, and it sits here beside the computer and landline as a possible alternate if our line is tied up. Others can wait until it isn’t. ;-) I really am not as grouchy as it sounds… well…
    Keep up the great work, and your blogs are fun. Your entire site is getting more and more user friendly. Thanks! Roger

  9. Warren says:

    People and cell phones make me SICK!!!!!

  10. Evelyn says:

    I don’t know what I would do without my cell phone any more. My husband and sons are addicted to phones…any kind of phone but I must say again I don’t know what I would do without mine….in Wally-world, Lowes or Home Depot or any Super Store. I might not ever find my husband in these places if it wasn’t for my cell phone call to him asking him “where are you?”. Other than that I can’t find the darn thing half the time and always forgetting to charge it unless we are going to a “Super Store”…then I will remember to charge it that morning, when I finally find it, as I surly know my husband would not be able to find the OUT door by himself. lol :-)

  11. Dennis says:

    We can have and use cell phones, just not every minute of the day. Cell phones have a botton for shuting them off, or way down so you will not have to hear it ring. And then be able to….good lord talk to someone who is standing or sitting near you…Wow what an idea! : )

    Right on Mike…With everthing you said…And please everyone we should put them to silence when driving, it might just save some lives.

    Have a great weekend folks, and please stay safe.

  12. Patrick says:

    I agree, the Bible talks about fasting and it does not have to food. The world will not end if with fast from cell phones up for one day!

  13. Susanne says:

    I had a crazy experience while waiting for my car to be serviced just last week. Two extremely loud long winded people on cell phones dropping f-bombs and sitting right next to eachother in a room full of customers just waiting for their cars to be serviced.

    I think too many people forget about manners or common sense when they have their cell phones glued to their ears and at arms length at all times. There are people that get so upset if you didn’t get there message and call you a liar if you say you didn’t have a chance to listen to a message yet. It is crazy and annoying. I am not anti cell phone usage I find them convenient and helpful for the most part but as with most things there is a time and place for everything and some people just take it too far.

  14. KatAngel13 says:

    I can definitely say I am not addicted to a cell phone. I do not have one & I don’t want one. I have a landline with an answering machine. I wouldn’t even have that if I didn’t really need it. There are 2 reasons I need a phone at all. I have a 97-year-old mother in another state to check on. The other reason is my 45-year-old daughter who is terminally-ill with Huntington’s Disease in a residential home a little over an hour’s drive (in another state) from me. She has been diagnosed with this disease for going on 13 years. Those are the main reasons I even have a phone at all. It wouldn’t bother my husband & me to do without a phone if it wasn’t for my mother & terminally-ill daughter. You are right about what you said in your blog. My husband & I have both have several times come very close to getting hit by people driving in parking lots while talking on a cell phone. My husband used to work for Price Chopper & he almost got hit quite a few times in the parking lot while getting carts because people talking on cell phones. In my opinion, talking on cell phones while driving anywhere (even in parking lots) can be very dangerous. It’s illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving in our state.

  15. Daniel says:

    We can have and use cell phones, just not every minute of the day. Cell phones have a botton for shuting them off, or way down so you will not have to hear it ring. And then be able to….good lord talk to someone who is standing or sitting near you…Wow what an idea! : )

    Right on Mike…With everthing you said…And please everyone we should put them to silence when driving, it might just save some lives.

    Have a great weekend folks, and please stay safe.

  16. Rob says:

    I also only use mine for emergencies. But I confess I am an internet junkie and am on here 10 to 15 hours a day. This is why I stick to a tracphone, lol. If I get one with more features I will be doing all Steve is saying here and I will be even worse than I am now, lol. And Steve, my 2 teens are exactly like you talk about here! One son did not know for 3 months that he was going to be an uncle due to the fact that he was too busy texting on his cell and he wasn’t listening to me when I told him! 3 months later he happened to hear one of us mention the coming baby and he was livid that we “never told” him, lol!

  17. Dottie says:

    I too say Amen!!!

    The first time I was really incensed by cell phone usage was when I went to visit my Mom’s grave. Some fool was actually using a cell phone at the cemetary…normally a place of reverence to me. I cannot believe that people would feel the need to talk, text, or play with their phones on every occasion. I think it’s a sorry symptom of man/womankind not have the brain power or imagination to entertain themselves. No wonder politicians have the run of things. Everyone else is too busy playing with their phone to really notice or act on the important stuff.

  18. Evelyn says:

    After reading all of the Post, including mine, I am amazed that there are so many people that do not have anything good to say about a cell phone. There are people that do not have landlines because of the extra cost the phone companies charge. They use nothing but cell phones. Free long distance is one of the perks of a cell phone along with no collect call charges. Being able to get family when you are away from home in case of an emergence is another perk. I did read that some used it for 911 calls only which means they are either in an area with a lot of crime or they don’t use it 99% of the time. A woman can feel safe with a turned on cell phone when traveling by themselfs day or night. Between Baton Rouge, La. and New Orleans they have landline phones all the way down the bridge that runs through the swamps so drivers can get someone in case of a car failure. That’s nice but there are no landline phones along the Interstates and if something goes wrong a person has to wait until someone is nice enough to help them or walk miles to get help. With a cell phone all you have to do is call for help….911 is always there to help in any emergency. My husband is a trucker and if an emegency happens at home, to him, or to me on the road I can always call him or he can call me by cell and relay the message. I use to have to call a dispatcher to get to him and that could take hours sometimes and sometimes, when you have a child sick to the point you have to take him/her to the hospital, even minutes are too long. It is nice to be able to say “good night” to him every night and not have to wait until he stops at a truck stop to eat to hear from him. It is true that everyone should have cell phone manners but it is also true that a lot more than cell manners need to be had in this day and time. Just my opinion, folks….and I hope it will give you something to think about.

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