Nomophobia is just another way to say compulsive technophilia, and isn’t that what people should fear? Hasn’t cell-phone radiation been linked to brain tumors? Aren’t people killed every day because they use their phones while driving? Isn’t it common knowledge that our overuse of technology has caused an alarming increase in social retardation, isolation, and complacency in the face of dystopic progress? Neil Postman may have been crotchety and Ted Kaczynski certainly lacked social grace, but sometimes technology’s advance is enough to make you pray that the sun will spray an electromagnetic pulse that turns all the lights out.

Most people are afraid to lose their cell phones, but they should probably be more afraid to have them. My generation was the last to use rotary phones. Looking back, that might have been a good stopping point. At least they didn’t jump off the wall and follow me out the door.

Not that mobile technology is useless. Cell phones make fantastic leashes for pussy-whipped boyfriends, remote controls for micromanaging employers, and absorbing distractions amid modern life’s endless boredom. They are a convenient escape from dinner-table conversations and an indispensable leaf on the gossiphopper’s grapevine. You can even use them to send pictures of your dick to prospective lovers. Besides bringing bad news and keeping me employed, the best thing cellular technology did for me was inspire the shortest short story I’ve ever written, entitled “€œOne Last Love Letter”€:

When the paramedics cut Lucy free from the wreckage, they found one hand melted to her steering wheel. The other gripped her charred cell phone. She had been typing a text message she would never finish. It read: “€œi luv u more than life itse”€””€

And it was clear that Lucy meant it.

A nail gun is a handy tool. So is a climbing harness or a condom. So why would anyone get self-righteous about a morally neutral device? Because there is nothing so satisfying as hammering nails straight into solid wood. Nothing is as exhilarating as free-walking open steel at a hundred feet or making love skin-to-skin. Technology only has so many benefits before it hits an existential ceiling and kills the magic of the moment.

Hold that thought”€”I have to take this call….

If you suffer from nomophobia, I recommend you take that cell phone out of your pocket and smash it over your forehead until you are free. You might find yourself lost in face-to-face interactions or undisturbed contemplation, but considering that humans have survived without constant digital contact for a hundred thousand years or so, I think you’ll live. That is, if your skull is tougher than your smart phone.

 



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