It isn’t socialism, communism or racism that threaten us.
It isn’t sexism or genderism.
Not the biological kind.
The device kind.
I went to our neighborhood mall to buy a gift for a newborn.
It was fun looking at the little bunnies and soft, fleecy clothes.
Then I decided to take a stroll.
I saw group after group of young men in their late teens and early twenties. Each one had a cell phone in their hands.
It didn’t matter what ethnicity, height, weight, hairstyle, bear or no beard, tattoos or no tattoos. They were studying the screens on their cell phones.
There could have been a gaping hole in front of them. They wouldn’t have noticed.
I saw people whom I assumed were on a date. They toted individual phones.
I saw a man with his arm around a woman. He didn’t have a phone but she did.
Young parents pushed their children’s strollers with one hand, read with the other.
Two sets of parents with two strollers walking together? Four cell phones.
I sat down on a bench (next to others furiously texting) and thought “How did they ever put down their phones long enough to have a baby?”
Here’s a shout-out to retailers.
No one is looking at your window displays!
I estimate that over 90% of the people I saw, of all ages (except the gray-haired crowd) held phones in their hands, even if they weren’t using them.
The happiest memories of my childhood were the times when my large extended family sat down to share a meal. The jokes flew fast and furious. So did the caring, love and attention.
Those days are gone.
There are almost no American teenagers who can eat a meal without their phone on the table or in their lap.
Children start early. My mall walkabout revealed three and four year olds transfixed by their phones and tablets.
As soon as those dimpled hans can hold one, mom and dad give them a device to keep them distracted so they can operate their own.
The obsession takes a mortal turn if using cell phones and driving.
The number of distracted driving fatalities in the U.S. in 2016 were 37,461. According to University of Utah research, cell phone users are 5.6 times and text readers or senders are 23 times, more likely to cause a car crash.
AT&T has an anti-texting program aimed at reducing traffic accidents, called “It Can Wait”. Families, schools, doctors’ offices and houses of worship, etc., should post similar notices proclaiming “We Can’t Wait.”
There was a New York City mayoral candidate a few years back. His slogan was “The Rent Is Too Damn High.” He lost the race, but his slogan took off.
The cost of addictive cell-phone use is “Too Damn High” as well.
Cell phones have destroyed discourse, damaged relationships, impacted parent-child interactions, caused the loss of intimacy among family members and friends and created shallow, self-serving, impatient, monosyllabic, ill-educated children.
Imagine Little Johnny all grown up visiting mom in Shady Acres and scrolling on his his cell as mom poignantly waits for his attention.
Anti-cell public service announcements should proclaim, “Ditch the itch”.
Excessive cell-phone use is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
I had a cell phone with me at the mall.
But I didn’t reach for it.
For a moment, I thought, maybe I should take a picture as part of my research.
But then I realized that it was the devil talking.