Some day soon (very soon, I hope), there will be a designated space set aside in restaurants, airports and other public places for those who just cannot survive without their cellphone phix. It took a long time for this to happen for smokers, but it finally did, once the realities of cigarette smoking could no longer be swept under the carpet.
We’re all still having too much phun with our phones to be bothered about health issues, and it’s going to take a phundamental shift in awareness or a very nasty collective wake-up call for this to change. But it’s not just about the harmful ephects of cellphone radiation; it’s about the respect, human connection and emotional presence that are being compromised in favour of being ‘connected’ to some person, in some place, about some thing other than what’s right in front of you. It’s a contagion of phragmentation that will have many more repercussions than losing a friend, not digesting your meal or missing a beautiful sunset.
Our electronic gadgets have also swept us up into a multi-tasking phrenzy. Our brains are not designed for this degree of processing, and multi-tasking not only reduces our productivity, our phocus and our problem-solving abilities; it also permanently damages our brain and makes us less smart. (Look up multi-tasking on the Internet to see just how damaging it is, but try not to do it when you’re in the middle of doing something else.)
For now, there seems to be no escape from the cellphone inphestation. Yesterday, I saw two young people sitting on the beach on a stunning summer’s day, heads together, talking intimately. As I got closer, though, I realized that they were both on their phones, texting pheverishly, ignoring each other, the eagle flying overhead, the beautiful clear water, and the antics of the one-year-old playing in the sand. (Unbeknownst to that little fella, he only has about another year left, before being directly hooked up to the source of the pandemic, although his thin little skull is already being bombarded by harmful radio waves from all sides.)
I hardly ever use my phone, but that doesn’t make much difference if you’re still using yours—beside me on the bus, beside me in the cinema, beside me in the restaurant, and beside me in every single café in town. If I went up to you in the restaurant, pulled back my hair and said, “Look. See this scar? This is from brain surgery to remove a tumour due to electromagnetic radiation“, would it change anything? I doubt it. You’d probably be annoyed that I’d interrupted you when you were trying to send a very important text. Besides, that kind of thing only happens to other people, right? Like lung cancer. Phunny. I used to think like that too.