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THIS ISSUE
RECENT COLUMNS
THE SKINNY ARCHIVES

Are You Addicted to Your Phone? Seven Telltale Signs


Sara M., of Wainscoting, Georgia, seemed to have the perfect life. A spiffy new house in the best subdivision in town. An adoring husband who made a handsome income in pop-tops. Two well-mannered children. A cheerfully manic ferret for a pet. With the help of just a cleaning woman, a lawn service, an au pair, and her spinning class, Sara kept her home, her family, and her life in perfect order.

Then she got a cell phone.

Soon people began to notice that things at the M's weren't right. There was crabgrass in the lawn, and the begonias were drooping. Without Sara's firm direction, the cleaning woman was slacking off. Sara's Corian countertops didn't have their accustomed shine. Her children's gym socks were no longer freshly bleached and ironed. The ferret grew despondent as nobody scooped his litterbox.

The truth came out. Sara was-on the phone. To friends. Acquaintances. Strangers she gave her number to at Wal-Mart. People who grew so weary of her conversations that they would crinkle cellophane in the mouthpiece and pretend the signal was breaking up. Soon Sara stumbled into an affair with a wastrel she met when she accidentally punched a wrong number into her speed dial. She abandoned her family to move with him to a commune near Petits Fours, Oregon.

Like other forms of addiction, addiction to cell phones starts subtly. Perhaps you buy one just for emergencies. You get a bare-bones model with the minimum number of minutes. Then it starts.

- You're at the grocery store. Should you get Belgian endive for dinner or not? You make the call.

- You're driving home. Your boss just gave you 45 minutes' worth of grief. You want to vent. Why wait? You can call now.

- You want to take a shower, but you need to call your sister. No need to prioritize. You can do both at the same time

Once, you exceed your minutes. You storm and wail and swear it won't happen again. A few months later, it does. And then again. Suddenly, there you are, paying more for minutes than you do for meals, with a permanent crick in your neck and a perpetual ringing in your ear.

How can you tell if you're starting down the slippery slope to cell phone dependency? Experts have identified these seven telltale signs:

1.Do you sleep with it under your pillow?

2. Do you take it on hayrides at children's birthday parties?

3. Did your child draw your picture for the class Mother's Day book with a phone at your ear?

4. Does it rank before your microwave, espresso maker, blow dryer, and paraffin spa as the most important appliance in your life?

5. Do you spend sleepless nights on your phone checking the weather or playing Hangman?

6. Do you feel undressed without it?

7. Is your self-esteem tied up with your phone? Might you say, for instance:

"My cell phone gives me a sense of identity and accomplishment."

"It's a status symbol. It shows that I have money and power and that my time is so valuable that I can't afford to waste a minute."

"I always wanted to be a telephone operator. My hands-free phone lets me live my dream!"

If you're exhibiting any of these signs, don't despair. There's a Center for Cell Phone Disorders near you! Its sympathetic staff will help you conquer your addiction with one of these popular therapies:

Placebo. Clients are given a nonworking, toy cell phone to talk into, so they can still look important

The cell phone patch. Made of strong but lightweight Spofdex™. Applied directly over the mouth.

Behavioral conditioning Each day, the client must walk to the next car in the school pickup lane to talk to a friend instead of calling.

Aversion therapy. Clients are required to read all the directions for programming the phone instead of handing it to a child to do

Bitsy C. was a child of the feminist 60s. Like her idol, Betty Friedan, Bitsy had been known to stomp on the feet of well-intentioned men who opened doors for her. As vice president of cheese substitutes for a big corporation, Bitsy was a busy woman. She bought herself a cell. Minutes became hours and the bills mounted up. Bitsy switched from one service to another, looking for more features, more minutes, a better look, a better deal

Then, one day, she saw herself. Really saw herself. Wearing the latest in wireless fashions, she was hand-washing dishes in her darkened apartment, trying to save on electricity. Groping her way to bed by the glowing screen displays of a dozen phones, Bitsy realized she needed professional help.

Bitsy's story has a happy ending. Yours can, too!

©2002 Elaine Langlois


NEXT MONTH IN "THE SKINNY:"

Lips of the Stars. The body part of the season that you must lavish money on is . . . lips. Not hips or eyes or bosom or hair. Improving the appearance of your lips, or thinking about how to improve the appearance of your lips, or reading articles in leading women's magazines about lips, or staring dreamily into the bathroom mirror making little kissing noises while the pancakes burn, is how you should plan to spend most of your waking hours.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elaine Langlois is a writer and editor. Contact Elaine


Other HW articles by Elaine Langlois:

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