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| By Wellvyl Media Editorial

Am I Too Connected?  

Dear Cell Phone,

We need to address our relationship in depth, which has proven to be both an asset and a liability. But before I go further, allow me to provide you with a bit a personal history.

As an older millennial, I’ve been connected with electronics my entire life. I remember playing games on a clunky, grey box called the Macintosh computer, and the many nights I’d sign onto AOL at home, hoping that my parents, who were asleep in the next room, wouldn’t be stirred by that ear- piercing dial-up sound and order me to bed. You see, in those days, the internet and the phone shared a line, so the only time I could log on without disrupting the flow of incoming calls was late at night. Sometimes, I had homework to do that required internet research, but I was mostly browsing random pages and chat rooms to counter my insomnia.

The 1990s were very different from today for a lot of reasons, and arguably better- our president wasn’t quite so temperamental. But I digress. With the exception of my Walkman and CD player, the grandparents of the iPod, none of my devices were portable. I didn’t get my first cell phone until middle school so that my parents could keep tabs on me. The Nokia models were popular even though they had no color, and god help you if you had big fingers, because the buttons were so close that nobody could be bothered to compose a text longer than “OK BYE.” For that reason, I reserved my phone for making calls and playing a now defunct game called Snake. When I entered high school in the early 2000s, I didn’t do much texting, because I was too busy spending time with those who were physical with me. Crazy, right? Those were radical times.

The rapid evolution of technology heralded the end of an era, and this didn’t just apply to phones. AOL  lost its luster, My Space marked the social media craze, and that was eventually upstaged by the advent of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. People could access these platforms, not only on their laptops but their phones, at any time of the day or night. The buttons were finally larger, with more space between them, and some models even had the talk-text feature. It was sometime between high school and college that my texting habits worsened. Evenings intended for studying, or working on projects for the art show, were interrupted with hours (yes, hours) of texting. I had my phone with me at house parties, in the dining hall, in bed. Sometimes, and do excuse the TMI, I’d become so engrossed in a text conversation while on the toilet, that I’d have to kick my feet to get the circulation flowing again.

The rigors of academia concluded with my master’s degree and I was able to enter the workforce. My first employer was a nice man, not too much older than his staff, so he was willing to accommodate our “need,” if that’s the right word, to check our phones on occasion. As a writer, I had to compose and edit several articles a day, so there wasn’t much time for texting.  After spending a full day looking at a computer screen, you’d think that when it was time to leave, the last thing I’d want to do is look at yet another screen. But I did just that, hammering out texts to friends from Queens to the Bronx, and how I didn’t get my phone stolen while nodding off with it in my hands stumps me to this day.

You and I have been together about….six years now? You’re my best phone, one of only three I’ve had with the touch screen feature. You take great photos, even better videos, and I’ve downloaded more app s than I possibly need for one lifetime. But no thanks to you, I’ve become the very person I don’t want to be. My addiction to you is problematic, and recognizing that is the first, crucial step.  I want to enjoy my own company, as well as that of others, without your constant interference.

I don’t need you next to my bed. I bought a long USB cord specifically so that I could use you while you were charging, and I was under the covers. But this is ridiculous. A little texting at night before bed is fine, but as a writer, I should be reading actual books, not words on a bright screen. I’ll set you to charge in another room so that I’m not able to reach for you at random points in the evening, or first thing in the morning. Let me brush my teeth, and take a shower first, at least!

You aren’t invited to my parties. I mean, you’re helpful in helping me document them, and I would never know half of the songs playing without the use of Shazam. But what’s the point of being in the club, absorbing the rhythms the DJ is blessing us with, while texting? You’re going in my pocket or bag.

Sex. God, I’m ashamed to admit this publicly but… I have paused to text in between position changes, and I can’t think of anything I’ve done that is less sexy, though my partners have never complained about it. The only electronic that has any place in a sexual situation is a vibrator and before you ask me to set you on vibrate and go to town, the answer is no.

You interrupt my travel flow. How many times did I have you out while walking around Paris, Barcelona, hell even the beaches of St. Martin? And if the regular text messaging wasn’t possible, I’d use Whatsapp to let folks know where I was and where I was going to be. This defeats the purpose of travel. I’ll keep you u in my hotel room, unless absolutely necessary.

Meals. I love to eat out- maybe too much, and that’s a whole other habit I need to kick. The only reason why my friends won’t call me out on my disrespect is that half of the time, they’re also texting, or do ing something else on their phone. We can’t fully enjoy one another’s time, nor can we savor our food. So if you don’t mind, I’m going to turn you off, and pretend you don’t exist for an hour or two. I don’t want to get any sauce in that massive crack on your face.

I pine for the early days when I didn’t have this almost insurmountable urge to check my phone. You give me this bizarre sense of satisfaction, and I can’t put my finger on why. But I only have one life to live, and in the pursuit of being a better person, something has to change.

Thanks for understanding. No hard feelings, I hope!