Friday, August 30, 2002


I am going to cut and paste this whole nytimes article in its entirety, here.
what a lesson for life!
this is what our culture is "suppossed" to teach us...self disipline, the Zen of self-disipline where the control of life is in our INDIVIDUAL hands, and each of us has to choose and to be Centered in focused awareness......

August 29, 2002
the "cuircuits" section of the Thursday new york times

After the Bad Breakup, a Cellular Truce

After the Bad Breakup, a Cellular Truce

FEW months ago, a friend who is otherwise as technologically well endowed as the next guy explained to me why he had no desire to own a cellphone.

He found it irritating, he said, to have his conversations with friends constantly interrupted by nonurgent cell calls. He finally vowed never to join the mobile communications crowd when a loud cell conversation stopped him from hearing the dialogue on the screen in a movie theater.

I harumphed at him, noting it was probably only a matter of time before he too would be seduced by the pleasures and convenience of omnipresent communications.

But something about that conversation stuck with me. In time, I wondered if I'd moved beyond seduction to addiction. And finally, I decided it was over.

Perhaps it was the head-on collision I nearly caused while ordering a pizza. Maybe it was the string of calls from a near stranger who was persistent about getting together for coffee. Or possibly it was just an accumulation of smaller annoyances. But off went the cellphone, and I began to enjoy the new silence.

Things weren't supposed to turn out this way.

When I bought my first cellphone nearly 10 years ago, my intention, like that of many others, was to use it only in emergencies. But the siren call of life beyond NPR in the car was too irresistible. I took to placing frequent calls to my mother-in-law while tooling around the streets of Austin, Tex. They were local calls, and therefore easy to justify.

It escalated from there. I began making long-distance calls to talk to everyone about nothing. I was quickly falling prey to what a colleague calls the Cellphone Orthodontist Principle. As he explains it, this is when you can no longer be in the car without taking the opportunity to make a call. You've exhausted your list of friends and family and you wind up calling your orthodontist from junior high, and saying, "Hey, I love what you've done with my teeth. Are you busy for the next 40 miles?"

I had it bad.

The next thing to go was incoming calls. Over time, I gave my cellphone number to pretty much everyone, with reckless disregard for the consequences.

People began to treat it as if it were my only number. How were they to know? And why should they care? They called that number first because they didn't have to worry about where I might be. The phone rang all the time.

I had hoisted myself on my own greed for conversation. I was being tyrannized by this small obsidian shard, with its annoyingly spotty reception, the dangerously distracting sway it held over me and the gravitational pull that sent it to the bottom of the canyon that is my purse.

Then, in June, came the endless calls from the near stranger. One day brought four messages in a row, each containing real-time news flashes as to his whereabouts.

I knew I had sunk to a nadir one day when I looked over to see my 8-year-old daughter at the piano, playing a skilled rendition of Tick-Tick, one of her favorite ring tones. I didn't know whether to cry or send her into voice mail.

So one day last month I simply turned it off. It remained at the bottom of my purse, inert. No more vibrating little dances on tabletops, no more frantic rummaging through the purse to answer it. I certainly didn't miss it. In fact, I felt liberated to a degree I hadn't in months.

Occasionally I would come upon it in my bag. But it left me cold and emotionless. Seeing it was like bumping into an old flame I had long since gotten over. It crossed my mind to turn it on to see if there were any urgent messages. But I resisted the urge, figuring it would be too late to respond anyway.

Then one evening, a week or so after I had silenced the phone, I found myself in a bind.

My daughter, who worries about me when I'm not with her, was home with the baby sitter. She was accustomed to being able to check in with me on the cellphone. I wasn't planning to be near a stationary phone that evening, and I didn't want her to worry.

So I turned it on. A few seconds later, it rang. As it happened, it was the friend who owns no cellphone.

"I've been trying to reach you for days," he said, not miffed but definitely confused.

"I have a lot of other numbers you could have tried," I reminded him.

As it turned out, my daughter didn't try to reach me that night. There had been no need to turn it on in the first place.

The deadlock was broken. The phone hadn't won, exactly, but I was now willing to negotiate.

We — the phone and I — have reached a cranky truce. The phone is on much of the time now but rarely rings, and when it does, it's when someone really needs to find me. That's because it took only that week to retrain most people to stop using my cellphone as my primary number.

I still make sure the phone is on when my daughter might want to reach me. And quite frankly, it has come in handy when I find myself facing logistical sticky wickets. I appreciate those moments more than I used to. But I also feel as if I have put the phone in its place.


yes, whether in phones, in drugs, in internet porno....or in the whole of lif and our living it....what a lesson is in here!