Michel: Phone home: Let’s not replace true connections

Published 11:45 pm Friday, September 5, 2014

“Dance like no one is watching… Because they are not… they are checking their phone.”

I thought it was funny and posted it on my Instagram account. After I laughed, I stopped to consider its unfortunate truth. 

Rare is the person without a cell phone, rarer still the individual who doesn’t check their phone throughout the day to check their call log, text messages or the number of ‘likes’ their latest Facebook status received. Don’t worry, I pointed the finger at myself first.

I reluctantly accepted the cell phone my husband bought for me in 1994. “Why would I ever need that?” was my immediate response. I posed the same question when he suggested we buy a home computer, earning me the title of Least Technological. 

(A title I secured when my daughters Elise and Victoria saw me struggling to add a header to a document. “I’m not sure what’s wrong with my computer,” I said when my latest effort to add page numbers failed. “I’ll get it. I’ve only been at it two days.” And a few keystrokes later, my daughters achieved success.)

I decided to use my first cell phone for emergencies only. Strictly emergencies. I’ll never forget my first ‘emergency.’ Driving home from somewhere, I decided on Taco Bell for dinner. (I’m health conscious like that.)

Why go home to get everyone’s order when I had a phone right there in the car? 

Today my cell phone has replaced my calendar, alarm clock, landline, calculator, phone book, note pad and sometimes my computer. And I rarely leave home without it. I truly understand the importance we have attached to this item, but it does sadden me to watch it replace conversations. 

I’ve observed people in restaurants silently eating while looking at their phone or talking while they text. And I’ve been just as guilty. Worse yet are when children have to compete with a phone for their parents’ attention. 

People like their phones. So Martin Lindstom’s experiment shouldn’t have surprised me.

Using an MRI, he observed the brain activity when the participants saw or heard their phones ringing. There was a flurry of activity in the area of the brain associated with feelings of love and compassion.

Of all the things a cell phone is capable of doing, may we never allow it to replace human interaction or be the object of our love. I’m going to conduct a little experiment on myself. I’m turning my phone off  when I am dining out and visiting with friends. Oh, and dancing like no one’s watching.


Ronny Michel may be reached at rmichel@rtconline.com.