Phone-free or die

FI-Joe-PisaniI reached a milestone in my recovery last week. I actually left the house without my cellphone.

OK, it was for only 20 minutes when I went to the dump, and I did it by accident because I dropped the phone under the bed in a spot normally reserved for dirty socks. Nevertheless, I made it home without suffering a panic attack, although toward the end my breathing did get a bit heavy and I broke out in hives.

Nevertheless, I didn’t feel the need to send an email, call my kids to nag them, listen to iTunes, play Exploding Bubbles or check the stock market and the Weather Channel.

I’m so excited about my personal victory that I’m looking for opportunities to leave my iPhone behind again, even though it’s usually strapped to me like one of those locator bracelets they clamped onto Lindsay Lohan. In fact, I go to church with it because you never know when Pope Francis might tweet or someone falls off a pew and I’ll need to dial 911.

On the commuter train, I keep the phone in my shirt pocket and when it vibrates about every four minutes, I promptly check the incoming email.

This must be a hereditary condition because my daughter went to a Taylor Swift concert last week and she ended up texting all night long instead of listening to Taylor whine about her old boyfriends. And when my other daughter and her husband visited us and when we sat down to talk, one was shopping on Amazon and the other was on Facebook while my wife was playing Scrabble on her iPad. When I left the room, no one noticed. I came back 15 minutes later and found them all in the same positions,. I had to check their pulses just to confirm they were still alive (which they were).

And we’re not the only ones suffering from this compulsive disorder.

The other day, I walked into the men’s room and some guy was in the stall on his phone, arguing with his girlfriend about their sex lives. I, however, have learned to leave the phone at my desk when I go to the bathroom because it fell in the toilet once. Plus, I also know better than to argue with my wife about sex in person or on the phone.

So it turns out that a little freedom can be intoxicating. I felt proud of myself when I got on an elevator in Manhattan and I encountered a half-dozen young people staring at their phones. I was better than that. I, instead, stared at the ceiling.

The Millennial Generation can’t get enough Twitter, Facebook and Angry Birds. In fact, millions of them do nothing but sit in Starbucks all day, waiting for a tweet from Rihanna or Lady Gaga or a photo of Kim Kardashian busting out of her bikini.

One of my friends doesn’t own a smartphone, and I’ve often told him, “You have to get one. Everyone has one. Everyone needs one. What if your car breaks down or aliens invade? What will you do? There are no more phone booths.”

“It’s just another thing to worry about,” he says.

While I want to be as independent as him, everyone in my little universe, including my wife, my daughters, my boss, my previous bosses, my clients, Brooks Brothers and Barack Obama want to be able to reach me any time, any day. And when you drop off the grid, they get very nervous.

Where is he? What’s he doing? Has he passed into the Great Hereafter? Did he hit Lotto? Did he escape the rat race?

Well, as they say in New Hampshire, “Live free or die.”

People of America, join me in this crusade. Cast off your technological yokes, put your cellphones under the bed or in the toilet. Go outside and smell the polluted air, look up at the sky, not the cellular towers.

Be truly human again.

 

Joe Pisani may be reached at [email protected]

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