Live without my cell phone? Forget about it

What would happen if I threw this one against the wall?
What would happen if I threw this one against the wall?

Sometimes I want to throw my phone against the nearest cinderblock wall and send it to the digital hell where it belongs. It goes off when I’m working. It annoys me. It can befoul my mood in a split second.

But I feel I can’t function without the stupid thing. Ever since I got my first cell phone in 2000, life has not been the same. I could run but forget about hiding.

I never go anywhere without my phone. Never. Anywhere. I’m not the only one either. If you have a cell phone — who doesn’t these days? — you probably have it with you right now. Even if you’re in the head. I’ll bet it’s even on.

Smartphones upped the ante even more. Now you have many reasons to frequently check it — someone could be talking about you on Twitter or trying to contact you on Facebook. Or you need to know the weather right now, even though poking your head out the window is still more reliable.

My smartphone recently bonked out on me, and I’m still going through withdrawals. I’m using one of those feature phones (read: dumb phone) and it does everything I expect a telephone to do. But I miss that anytime-I-want-it Internet connection. I can get ball scores, bank balances and the weather through a text message and it’s faster, but it’s still not the same.

See, here’s the part I don’t understand. I didn’t always have a phone, landline or otherwise. For a long time I just used a pager. Someone would call, punch in his call back number and I’ll get back whenever I felt like it. There were always phones around anyway; I could use one at work or even a pay phone to return the call.

(Hey, remember pay phones? If you do, you’re probably an old person like me. Now you can’t find one anywhere.)

But I functioned quite well without a phone. Really really well. And I was able to separate my home life from my work life, which isn’t always easy to do. I worked as a newsman for years and never had a cell phone the entire time I was in that trade. Never missed a good story either.

Today? Don’t ask. I don’t go anywhere without it. Someone important may call.


Writing for others: Why the ante is raised on cell phone theft

Think about it. Losing your cell phone doesn’t just mean losing your phone.

To all intents and purposes, you’ve also lost your wallet. And maybe even the keys to your financial kingdom.

As cell phones get smarter, the ante goes up even more.

Here are some ways of protecting your smartphone and the information it carries. Some of this stuff is common sense, while there are others you may mot have heard of. Like my own best cell phone protection costs almost nothing but saves it from all kind of problems.

Read the article in CreditDonkey:


Professional drivers will watch recommended cell phone ban

While it’s too early to tell, states may consider following the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) recommendation to ban all cell phone use while driving, and truckers are already wondering what the future holds for them.

The NTSB recommends all cell phones — even the hands-free variety — be shut down when on the road.

This recommendation doesn’t have the force of law, but the board still has a great deal of influence in state policy decisions, and talk of cell phone bans may be warming up anew in some states.

South Carolina has no such laws on the books, but driver distraction or inattention can be checked off as a factor in citations and accidents. Additionally, a police officer may cite a driver for “inattentive driving,” but this often considered a break for the driver — there is a fine, but no points are taken off a license. Laws vary wildly from state to state, and you can check yours by going to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) site.

But many of the truckers I talk to say they’re watching this one, and expecting some laws will change in South Carolina soon. On my day job, I deal with truckers through my whole work shift, and I can’t remember when I’ve heard the drone of a dispatcher over the radio. Now, most trucking companies dispatch over the cell phone, through text message, and occasionally via email. Which makes sense, might as use the technology.

But there’s another reason for using these new tools for dispatching. The transportation industry is highly competitive — read: cutthroat — and a dispatcher’s call needs to be private.

I saw this evolve over my years as a taxi driver, too. The company where I worked started using the radio less and the cell phone more as other cabbies with scanners were always homing in on your radio transmissions and looking to snake your call. Last I heard, my old cab company completely phased out the radios in favor of dash-mounted computer units — another distraction.

But there’s a big difference between a business call that takes less than a minute ande that incessant yak-yak-yakking that often goes on. And it’s true many of the truckers are a real menace with a cell phone or Bluetooth device glued to the ear. We’ve had a number of close calls and a few bump-and-grinds at the rail yard, and if you investigated these incidents, you can bet there’s a cell phone somewhere.

But then, we have some drivers who don’t need a cell phone to scare me. Some folks shouldn’t be allowed to drive a kid’s Big Wheel, let alone a truck hauling 20 tons of cargo.

OK. My stance on this whole thing?

Understand, I’m a personal liberty buff, and keep in mind there’s still a limit to these liberties. My right to swing my fist ends just short of your nose.

But making a law isn’t going to solve anything, not really. I do like the idea of using distractions as aggravating circumstances for a collision or traffic ticket, only it should have more teeth in it than what I mentioned in the South Carolina law. But someone who is able to use a cell phone without screwing up traffic — some people really can do this — shouldn’t have to worry that he’s breaking the law. And if laws are the thing, they should remain on the state or local level. A federal law is the worst way to go here.

Cell phones are only a part of the problem. There are lots of ways to be distracted while driving (check out the sidebar), and no law should single one out over the other.