SOMETHING FUN to think about is what would happen if all the cell phones stopped working, for reasons I cannot even postulate since I know nothing about how they work in the first place. But what I do know is that all of Western culture is in the grips of a terrible epidemic—call it Morbus Cellphonicus—that is destroying any possibility of nurturing interpersonal communication and leaving its hapless victims with poor posture, neck aches and, certainly among the older generation, arthritic fingers. It seems to gain strength daily, with willing victims lining up at all 498 Apple stores across 22 countries, eager to purchase the leading conduit of the disease, another way, we’re hooked on cell phones and they are ruining life for everyone. It’s the new Plague, only minus the scurrying rats.
One of the most common symptoms is the act of texting, which isn’t even talking when you at least can hear the voice of a loved one, or even just another human. No, it’s confined to writing messages in a kind of dumbed-down shorthand, precluding all feelings of warmth and most intelligence, sometimes with dire results. For example, 25% of all car accidents in the United States (per year) are caused by cell phone texting while driving. That translates into 330,000 accidents leading to severe injuries and in some cases, death, because someone wanted to say “😈😮🙏😎💔 lol” to someone else, often to someone they have never even met in person, and they just couldn’t wait until the next red light.
Bedtime scrolling through Facebook has replaced marital sex in many couples, leading to separation and divorce. Children and parents no longer speak to one another with their mouths, instead texting even within the same household to say that “dinner’s ready” or “time to go.” Hugging is simply out of the question, replaced by 💋. Millions of husbands and wives afflicted with Morbus Cellphonicus quickly become addicted to their cell phones, unable to put them down, turn them off or eventually live without them. “In the last few months, I must have seen 30 couples and families in which technology addiction was contributing to the psychological problems within the family system, ” says Jay P. Granat, Ph.D., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in an article on the effect of cell phones on the divorce rate.
Even worse, unprotected children who get hooked early get the sickest, with little hope for a cure. According to Dr. Granat, “A colleague of mine who is a guidance counselor in a middle school notes that when the teachers confiscate a cell phone, students show up in the guidance office and ask if they can visit their phones and hold their phones for just a few minutes.”
So, as I said at the outset, think about what would happen if all the cell phones stopped working. (See, it is fun.)