Whitesburg KY

Cell phone holdouts are right: Buy a phone, become a baby



Whoopee for the iPhone, the latest version of the device that has made us a nation of blabbing babies: the cell.

Not that I could live without mine.

Still, I found a surprising number of cell phone holdouts who somehow manage to get by without the dropped calls, postwork work and daily conversation that goes: “Hang on just a sec. Can you make that coffee light, no sugar? I AM listening to you. You say you’re getting a div – No sugar! Wait. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, so she walked out and – Can you break a 10?”

Holdouts will have none of this. In contemplating their righteous purity, we see the truth about our cell-addicted selves:

“If I were to get one, pretty soon I wouldn’t be able to live without one,” said holdout Henry Stimpson, neatly nailing the biggest problem with cell phones: the way they turn previously independent individuals into the great unweaned.

“Typical incident,” Stimpson said: “I went to a ballgame with a bunch of my friends and afterwards all the other guys in the car were whipping out their phones and calling their wives. I don’t need to call my wife! She knows I’m coming home.”

Cell phones turn adults into babies, constantly needing contact with their spouses, friends and children. In fact, it’s possible that children in a cell-connected world make out worst of all. This morning, not five minutes after I’d left for work, my 11-year-old called from the kitchen to ask if he could have banana bread for breakfast.

Kid – I’m not there. Eat ice cream and marshmallows. Go wild or be a good boy, just pretend it’s 1990 and I’m unreachable. With all of us connected all the time – “Mom, I’m on the bus,” “Mom, I’m two blocks from home” – independence never gets a foothold.

Young adults fare no better. I have a friend whose daughter went shopping for her first college formal and sent her mom – 1,000 miles away – a photo of each dress as she tried it on.

Grow up! Buy a dress by yourself! And while we’re at it, learn to make plans, too.

“I go to concerts all the time and my network of friends, they just don’t know what to do when they confront somebody without a cell,” said a 27-year-old holdout, Briee Della Rocca. “They say, ‘Call me when you get to the parking lot and we’ll meet up somewhere.’ I say, ‘I don’t have a cell phone. Let’s plan in advance’ – and the record stops. It’s almost like they don’t even consider that this is a potential option – to plan ahead.”

Cell phones also allow their users to be late (“Almost there!”) and opportunistic.

“Just this weekend, I’d met a woman at a party and I was just starting to talk when she got a phone call from a friend,” said comic Ian Coburn. “The friend said, ‘Oh, those guys that Patty wanted us to meet are at that bar right now!'” And off she went to the other bar.

Rudeness and cell phones go together like blue-tooth and terminal hipness, which is just another reason many holdouts refuse to buy in. They don’t want to be the one shouting “I said I’M IN A RESTAURANT” in a restaurant.

Neither do I, but … that might have been me. Or you. And though the holdouts don’t realize it, eventually it might be them, too. Because it’s not 1990 anymore.

And that iPhone looks pretty cool.

Lenore Skenazy is a contributing editor at the New York Sun.

©2007 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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