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Column

Glued to smartphones, living in an electronic world

Too much information, but I’m hooked on it

Look around you, whether out at a restaurant, at a family gathering, with a friend, or with your kids and/or spouse. Necks, elbows, thumbs and fingers frozen, hooked in one position — carpal-tunnel and atrophy are setting in — all thanks to the smartphone. And it isn’t just the younger generation.

Amazingly, even the old folks have succumbed to this new way of communicating. Grandparents fell into this pit to get their kids’ and grandkids’ attention. When I want to talk to my son, he gets a text, “Mamma needs a Brad fix.” Usually I wait until a Sunday night, with a resulting call Monday night.

A few years back, while on a mission trip in the Kentucky mountains, the teens stood on their tiptoes at the highest point on the highest hill and were ecstatic when they got a bar or two on their phones.

I laughed and said there was life outside wi-fi.

From one I was informed, “You don’t understand. I’ve always had a phone with me at all times. I’ve never been without one.”

This was an awakening to me.

Kids sit at opposite ends of a couch “talking” via smartphone with no eye contact.

We senior citizens grew up playing games without a phone in our grip or our hip pocket. Our entertainment/communication was not dependent on any electronic device.

If we wanted to tell a friend or our mom something, we told them face to face. In fact, kids rarely used a phone. And if Mom needed to talk to someone, she dialed the rotary phone. For long distance, she dialed “0” and gave the operator the number to call. No 815 area code was necessary.

Once introduced to cellphones, seniors start out slow and learn new cell tricks one at a time, usually when we get with family or friends. Throw it at us all at once and it’s gone before we leave the room.

Each new little trick is an “ah-ha” moment. And what a delight it is to think we have overcome one more stumbling block in the technical world.

“Hey, Jerry, I tried calling you. Where’s your phone?”

“In the dish on the countertop.”

What part of charge it up, turn it on, and stick it in your pocket doesn’t he understand? Husband Jerry’s phone is an old flip used strictly for emergency phone calls, and no one has his number but me. Where a lot of us have become electronically dependent, Jerry lives the simple, less frustrating life.

Then there’s email. In the olden days, if our message wasn’t urgent, we sat down, took out pen or pencil, and wrote a letter — in cursive. The old method required waiting for your snail mail to arrive at its destination, then waiting for a snail-mail reply. This took days or weeks. Today, I write an email, and if the recipient isn’t busy, I get a reply in two minutes.

Then there’s Facebook. I am constantly updated on the news through FB, and I laugh at the funnies that are sent through it. I find out what is going on with my kids and grandkids through Facebook. I found out, along with the rest of the world, that I was a great-grandma! (Ouch!)

I’m torn. My childhood memories are flooded with fun, carefree times with no worries of what was going on all around the world. Once television came along, one-by-one electronic devices took over our lives, and we find people are angry over worldwide problems and frustrated that they can’t do one thing about. It’s called TMI (too much information).

An expensive investment for my parents, the World Book Encyclopedia, got me and my siblings through high school. Now, I simply ask Siri or Google. No information, current news, or trivia question is beyond reach in an instant.

OK, I admit it — I’m hooked! I’m lost if I leave home without my phone, or even if it’s at the other end of the house. It’s with me at all times. And now if I’m in the mountains, I stand on my tiptoes at the highest point of the highest hill ecstatic to get a bar or two.

Oops, excuse me — I have to answer this text.

Don’t forget to F-R-O-G.

Note to readers: Earlene Campbell lives by the FROG motto — Fully Rely On God. She lives in Princeton and can be reached at earlenecampbell@rocketmail.com.

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