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Dear Annie: I am the proud owner of a flip cellphone, and I probably wouldn’t have it if public telephones still existed. I use about 100 minutes a month and have sent, in my lifetime, no more than 300 text messages, most of them one or two words in response to a text sent to me. I use no data. I still use physical maps to navigate car trips.
However, I use a computer at my job, so it’s not like I’m a Luddite.
I say all this because I notice an increasing separation between myself and much of the rest of society, even my wife to some extent, regarding phone use. My wife has a smartphone and is on it frequently. I wouldn’t say she’s on it too much, at least compared to a lot of other smartphone users. She has hobbies besides her phone, but I’ve noticed that the phone eats up more of her time.
I notice, too, when I go to parks with my kids or take them to swimming lessons or soccer practice that many parents sit there looking at their phones.
I’m in my early 40s but feel like I’m in my 70s, wishing for the “good old days.” I’m not so much angry as I am saddened.
Am I alone in feeling this detachment? — Doesn’t Compute
Dear Doesn’t Compute: Thank you for your letter. You raise a very important conversation. On one hand, technology is absolutely amazing and has helped society in many ways. But it can also be dangerous when used too much. Social connections, face to face, are the healthiest form of connections. Being able to really see another is a gift that we can all give.
That gift is often lost because of texting or other forms of social media. I think you might be onto something that people are increasingly wishing for the good ol’ days when we were not bombarded with a constant blue light glow. That they make glasses that block the hazardous blue lights of our phones and devices shows that this problem is becoming increasingly widespread.
On the one hand, screens have reduced boredom; there’s always something to see, read or watch. On the other hand, they have taken away boredom, which can become a space where creativity and imagination glorious. Especially with children. You sound wise beyond your years. I commend you for bringing back the flip phone.
(Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com. This column is syndicated by Creators Syndicate columnists. Visit the website at www.creators.com.)