There’s A Whole World Beyond Your Phone

OPINION By Jeff Mullin Enid News & Eagle, Okla.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) I had no idea this even existed but it is "National Cellphone Courtesy Month." As the author of this article points out, it may be a good time for all of us to reflect on how we use our phones. Better yet, perhaps the long holiday weekend would be a good time to courteously put our cellphones in a drawer and walk away. Easier said that done!

Enid News & Eagle, Okla.

The other day a woman in our office was in a near-panic.

She was beside herself, anxious, worried, scared.

This is a married mother of two little boys, so seeing her in such a state, her colleagues naturally feared for her family.

Thankfully both boys, her pets, her mom and, oh yeah, her husband, were just fine.

Her family was not the source of her extreme anxiety, her house hadn't been broken into, her credit card hadn't been compromised, her bank account hadn't been hacked, she hadn't lost her job or become the subject of an IRS audit.

No, the source of her apprehension and unease was neither human nor animal.

This woman was in a dither because she had misplaced her smartphone.

It wasn't in her purse, it wasn't on her desk, it wasn't anywhere she looked, including her car.

She has one of those phone-finding apps, so she tracked it on her laptop. It told her the phone was somewhere in the newspaper building. So she kept on looking.

Finally she tried looking in her car one more time, and, mercifully, found the phone. It had fallen off the seat and was standing on end, making it harder to spot from above.

With her anxiety quelled and tragedy having narrowly been averted, my colleague somewhat sheepishly acknowledged how dependent on our smartphones she and so many of us in today's world have become.

In a study conducted in South Korea, women were found to be more addicted to their smartphones than men. The study surveyed 1,236 students at six different colleges and found that 52 percent of the females responding use their smartphones at least four hours a day, while only 29.4 percent of males do the same. Of those who admit to using their cellphones, 22.9 percent are women and only 10.8 percent are men. Another poll found that 50 percent of children and 27 percent of their parents considered themselves addicted to their smartphones.

According to a Nielson company survey released this week, an estimated 81 percent of American adults use a smartphone regularly, with the number of users growing by more than 20 million in the past year.

We are becoming a nation of people who spend a great deal of their time with their heads slumped, concentrating on the tiny devices held in their dominant hands.

You see it everywhere, in restaurants, stores, movie theaters, doctor's offices, even churches, people slumped over their phones, texting, surfing, whatever, but not paying attention to the world, or the people, around them. On vacation people are too busy trying to take selfies in front of national monuments to actually notice the tourist attraction itself. At concerts people are busy taking videos or snapshots.

The lady who temporarily misplaced her phone expressed concern about her sons' use of smartphones.

Her littlest, in fact, balks at going to karate or T-ball because it would mean giving up screen time.

Smartphones have been known to cause various physical problems, including text neck and cellphone elbow, not to mention the extreme hazards of texting while driving or walking.

Now doctors have identified another smartphone-enduced malady -- smartphone blindness. Doctors in Britain treated two women who went to a medical clinic complaining of temporary blindness in one eye, one early in the morning, the other late at night.

The doctors decided there was no permanent damage, but the condition was caused by staring at a cellphone in the dark with just one eye.

Today is the first day of National Cellphone Courtesy Month, but perhaps the long holiday weekend would be a good time to courteously put our cellphones in a drawer and walk away.

There is a whole world out there that can be viewed and experienced without the benefit of autocorrect or emojis.

Don't stare at your phone trying to get the perfect photo of July Fourth fireworks, instead watch the wonder in your kids' faces as they ooh and aah the night away.

At that July Fourth picnic, don't sit staring at your phone as mustard slips off your hot dog onto your shorts, actually look into the eyes of your family members or friends and actually interact with them.

I am going to take my smartphone and put it in a drawer right now ... if I can find it. Let's see, where did I leave it? I know I had it here someplace. I seem to have lost it.

Aaagh!!! I feel faint.

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