These Damned, Beloved Cell Phones

December 24, 2015

Illustration Credit: An Illustrator

Although I have no data to back me up, I have to assume that the postcard industry is in complete shambles. In an age where we can take a picture of something on the spot, then immediately send it to any individual or post it on social media for the entire world to see, how many people are actually going to the trouble of picking out, purchasing, and mailing a postcard? It’s a shame, really, as getting a postcard from someone traveling in a far off destination used to seem so cool. I’m as guilty as anyone, however.

These damned, beloved cell phones of ours are really screwing things up while they make life so very convenient. We are always reachable, and are constantly making sure we haven’t missed a text, notification, or email (no one really wants an actual phone call anymore). It wasn’t that long ago that I would happily take my landline (gasp) phone off the hook to avoid being bothered. Now my cell phone is like a lifeline.

We waste, er spend, hours a day on social media looking at pictures of “friends'” (although we may have never actually met) kids doing “cute” things (you know, like sitting, standing or walking), narcissistic selfies, and annoying videos of cats. The same silly memes are seen hundreds of times a week, while the amazingly clever things I post never seem to gain any traction…alas.  

Between the photos of birthday parties, selfies at concerts, vids of cats jumping three feet high for a fake mouse, and memes with the Dos Equis dude, our nation is divided by political posts. These are commonly lies or extreme exaggerations, which are presented as facts (both sides are terribly guilty of this). I should mention there is plenty of good news posted, too, though controversial and judgmental posts are apparently more interesting. Despite it all, I can’t seem to turn away or stop posting things, myself.

My twelve year old son is already addicted to his phone — as are most of his friends. He is on Facebook, Twitter, and (mostly) Instagram. My wife and I resisted letting him get accounts on these for a couple of years before giving in to his pleas. Snapchat is still off the table, although he asks us almost daily about letting him join. My kid spends a good part of each night FaceTiming with his girlfriend. They don’t say much, but just watch each other as they go about their lives. It’s somewhere between funny and disturbing. The most effective punishment we have for my son is to take his phone away. If we do this for any length of time, he not only shapes up because he wants it back, but he seems genuinely happier and is certainly more involved with our family. I don’t think this is any coincidence.

It’s probably too late for the current generations, but I give our species enough credit to expect that there will be a paradigm shift at some point where people will realize that while they are constantly looking down at their devices (at some point the term “phone” will surely fall out of favor), they are missing far too much of their short lives. Maybe this will be some future generation that wants to be better parents than they had growing up. Perhaps it will be sooner than later?

In the meantime, I hope everyone has purchased the latest and greatest phone, and that you will continue texting or emailing instead of calling me, letting us all know about your kids’ milestones and achievements, and posting selfies with famous landmarks when traveling. Let me ask just one favor: drop me a postcard sometime (you can use your phone to find my address). I’ll try to send some too. 


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