You CAN Unplug from Social Mania!

No Cell PhonesI have a confession to make. I’ve never owned a cell phone. EVER.

“What? You’ve never owned a cell phone? Are you stark-raving mad?”

I can easily see how one might think that—what with my living in this busy world of constant communication—but no, I don’t own one, and honestly, don’t care to. The last bit of technology that had me wrapped around its little finger was a pager back in the late 80’s, and no, I wasn’t a drug dealer, but spent ten days a month on-call for work.

It was a pain in the butt.

Of course, it came in handy when I got beeped during a blind date that had veered horribly off-track.

Beep-beep, beep-beep, beep-beep!

“Excuse me, but I need to call in,” I stated with faux pompousness, as if I were a brain surgeon or rocket scientist. It was, after all, a blind date that I had no intentions of contacting again.

I removed myself to use the pay phone—back in the days when pay phones were readily available—and found out that I had to cover the next afternoon’s underwater basket-weaving shift, then returned to the table, frantic about the ten-car-pile-up that needed my attention—STAT.

“An accident happened on the interstate and they need me in the O.R. at Mercy General to oversee a brain transplant. Those medulla oblongatas don’t stay fresh for long, you know. No, no…go ahead and finish your Blooming Onion. Here’s money for a cab.”

Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out a crumpled dollar bill, two quarters, and a fuzzy lifesaver.

“Er…the number 7 bus runs by every thirty minutes. Sorry about that…here, have a lifesaver. Gotta go!”

And then I high-tailed it out of there, Doctor Swift to the rescue, and met some friends over a martini to discuss my narrow escape from the hairy mole with the face attached.

The point I’m trying to make is, when in the heck did we ALL become so highfalutin and self-important that we needed to be reached at a moment’s notice…or have anybody else at our disposal like that? And when did we have to check in with everybody and their friend’s friends before we made a move to do…anything? We’ve all gone stupid, unable to solve a problem without asking someone else.

“Honey…there’s some smelly black goo in the baby’s diaper. What do I do?” Husband texts.

“Page Dr. Swift; there must be something terribly wrong. It’s 10:00 now—I’ll be home in five minutes!” Wife texts back. Then she proceeds to alert the media while on a social mania high:

  • 10:00:01 a.m. Facebook post: “OMG! Black goo is oozing from baby Precious. I’M SO WORRIED! Off to the house I go!”
  • 10:00:12 a.m. Facebook post: “But first, a quick stop at Carl’s Jr. for a double western bacon cheeseburger, curly fries and a hot apple pie. I can’t handle this stress on an empty stomach! Oh, and a Diet Coke.”
  • 10:02:35 a.m. Facebook post: “Just got into an argument with the cashier at Carl’s Jr. My order was ready, but she was on her cell phone while it sat under the warmer. Curly fries are now cold and limp.”
  • 10:02:38 a.m. Tweet: “@CarlsJr—Fire the girl with the missing tiger-striped acrylic nail! I just found it in my hot apple pie. #Gross”
  • 10:02:43 a.m. Response to tweet: “You best be bringing me back my fingernail, beotch. #ICutYou”
  • 10:02:50 a.m. Response to tweet response: “I threw it out on the corner of Hollywood and Vine. You can look for it tonight between tricks. #MyHusbandsACop”
  • 10:03:02 a.m. Response to tweet response response: “I know. Tell him he left his handcuffs on my bedpost last night while you were sleeping. #HusbandsWhoUseAmbien”
  • 10:03:03 a.m. Facebook post: “I THINK MY HUSBAND IS CHEATING ON ME!”
  • 10:03:04 a.m. Facebook responses: “Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like…”
  • 10:04:17 a.m. Tweet: “@Husband—I’m pulling into the drive.”
  • 10:04:20 a.m. Tweet: “@Husband—I’m opening the car door.”
  • 10:04:25 a.m. Tweet: “@Husband—I’m at the front door.”
  • 10:04:26 a.m. Tweet: “@Husband—It’s locked. I’m ringing the bell.”
  • 10:04:27 a.m. Ding dong.
  • 10:04:30 a.m. Tweet: “@Wife—Use your key, I’ve got my hands full. #Gagging”

Diaper Change

  • 10:04:33 a.m. Tweet: “@Husband—I’m inside now. Where are you?”
  • 10:04:34 a.m. Tweet: “@Wife—I’m in the nursery throwing up. Can’t you hear me?”
  • 10:04:35 a.m. Tweet: “@Husband—No.”
  • 10:04:36 a.m. Tweet: “@Wife—BARF!”
  • 10:04:37 a.m. Tweet: “@Husband—Now I do.”
  • 10:04:50 a.m. Facebook post: “Slapped husband across face, asked for a divorce, and he said he doesn’t even know a girl named Chastity with tiger-striped acrylic nails. I believe him. We’re back together again, forever and ever and ever. YAY! Oh…the baby! Let me check.”
  • 10:05:00 a.m. Facebook post: “Awwww….baby Precious went first poo-poo.”
Baby with Parents
Proud parents of a happy pooper.
  • 10:05:01 a.m. Facebook response: “How did hubby know her name was Chastity?”
  • 10:05:02 a.m. Tweet: “@DivorceLawyer—Can we talk? #WomanScorned”

Sure, this is an extreme example…or is it? We tweet and text each other when we’re sitting in the same room. We “self-interrupt” at work. According to The Wall Street Journal, the average office employee (and most likely, writer, too) “takes a break” to scan an email or glance at Twitter every three minutes—and takes more than twenty minutes to get back to the task at hand.

If you see this happening to you, here are three ways to break the hold that technology has, find some peace and quiet again, and possibly rekindle that failing marriage (From Sunset Magazine):

  1. Designate a specific space in your house as a tech-free zone. Try putting a basket at the door for cell phones. Sit on the patio and read. Soak in the tub for thirty minutes. Unplug anything with an LED indicator light.
  2. Get rid of your app-filled smartphone altogether. Keep it simple with a flip phone, or even a landline, like I have. Ditch the answering machine and use the caller ID. There once was a day when we didn’t have those things and seemed to function perfectly fine. People actually called back!
  3. For extreme cases, try a Digital Detox: retreats in remote Northern California locales that allow no devices. Clients forego all gadgets for long weekends of tech-free activities, such as cooking and hiking (remember that stuff?). For more information, visit Digital Detox.

If you find yourself jumping to Facebook every time you hear the notification “bleep,” close your computer and take a walk. Or—and this is a novel idea—get back to writing!

Seriously, it’s not that important that it can’t wait.


ML Swift

Photo Credits: No Cell Phones by Wesley Fryer;  Diaper Change by sunsurfr;  Happy Family by Pete Labrozzi via photopin cc


46 thoughts on “You CAN Unplug from Social Mania!

  1. hehe. I love my cell phone, but I don’t really use it to stay in touch with people. It’s a GPS for when I go to appointments, it’s a calendar for reminding me of meetings, it’s an entertainment box, it even stores my boarding pass information when I fly out of town. I can access my bank to check my statement, pay credit cards with it, and the list goes on and on. I can even order stuff shipped directly to my house.

    It’s the “Miracle Box” and I’m stickin’ with it.

    1. And I would, too! This isn’t an anti-cell phone post, but more of a break-the-social-media habit, which can be accessed through cell phones, computers, tablets. It’s a satirical look at the extreme, and the mobility of cells makes it the number one culprit with which to do so.

      When we text more than talk, have our heads stuck in Bejeweled Blitz or Angry Birds for hours at a time, ignore our relationships, lose all interpersonal social abilities, fiddle around on facebook or twitter every three minutes…that’s what I’m referring to. People do all that with laptops, too.

      But…that being said…once home, the basket by the door for the cells is a good idea. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  2. “Those medulla oblongatas don’t stay fresh for long, you know.”
    *gigle-snort…chuckle… rolls on the floor howling with laughter*

    Wonderful, wonderful post, Mike.

    I like having contact with my daughter and hubby when they’re away from home, and texting is nice because it’s faster and less intrusive than a call, but (having grown up in the 70’s) I despise being so accessible to everyone in general. I keep it to a minimum by limiting who has my cell phone number.

    As far as keeping myself from wasting time getting lost on cyber bunny trails when I should be drafting… Once I’ve checked my email in the mornings, I close all tabs except for 😉

    *scurries back into hiatus hidey-hole*

    1. That’s my point. I hate being easily accessible. People Google Earthing me and getting a street view of me picking my nose. I like a cell for trips (I have to borrow one), but that’s about it.

      Thanks for scurrying out and commenting! 🙂

  3. Love it! I have a dumb phone, and drive my friends nuts because I won’t use it (its for travel, basically). And won’t learn to text. . . Harder to cut away from the Internet, especially now that it’s part of my business plan (or would be if I weren’t an artsy type who can’t manage anything so organized).

    Still. . . I regularly leave the computers and phones for hours, days, and even weeks.

  4. Really enjoy your posts. Like you, I try to limit social media. Being a technosaur, it can eat up a lot of my writing time as I am trying to figure out all the “how do I’s”.
    Your post on your friend, Julie, is intriguing so I will visit her site as well.
    Have a GREAT week!

    1. Well thanks for popping in, Aya! Oh…and I just glanced at your blog…same theme! Good taste you have there. Julie’s a treat to follow. Always something good happening over there. I’m glad you liked, and I hope to see you often!

    1. I work out of the house, so there’s really no need for one. Plus…this is a dead zone, so there’s no reception, either. What’s the point for the little time I spend out and about?

      It’s just another bill, isn’t it? Good to see you Alex.

    1. Timothy Leary said to “Turn on, tune in, and drop out” way back in ’67, and while that’s not what I’M saying, it’s something like that. More like, “Tune in, get it done, and turn off.”

      Once, at a friend’s house, I was there for the passing of a family member and was asked to call someone at the church to let them know. “The number is on my cell phone.”

      While the family grieved, I went outside and couldn’t figure the dang thing out (it was a smart phone). Luckily, another non-family member came outside and helped me.

  5. Ah, Mike, you made me laugh so much with your examples, and you know what? I’ve actually read some very close to that! I agree with you on so many points. I must confess I do have two cells, but honestly, no one calls me, hahahahaha. Must be because I never answer them, but they are great for pics and music. 🙂

    1. Al…thanks for this comment! I was hoping to spread a little laughter with the absurdity of it all, and YES, it’s really not that far-fetched. I just took things that I have seen and tweaked them a little.

      I would probably have a cell if I didn’t live in a dead zone. One has to leave my property and go down the road a little bit to get reception, and since I work from home, there’s no need for me to waste money on something I really can’t use.

      Glad you got a chuckle today. 🙂

  6. Haha…great post Mike! 🙂 I agree…every time someone tells me that their 5 year old -needs- a cell phone “just in case”…I have to laugh.

  7. You’re hearing from the “Amen” choir. I can tell you as a parent, however, the lack of payphones has made cell phones a necessity, and I do appreciate that my kids don’t have to depend on finding a phone to call me. We don’t get cell phone service in the mountain hole I live in, so it’s definitely limited to in-town, when needed use and quite frankly, we’re too stinkin’ cheap to pay for data plans. We also cut out any cable or satellite tv which is another rant I could go for those who profess to be short on change. But that wasn’t really part of your post…

    1. Yes…like Video Killed the Radio Star, Cell Phones killed the Pay Phones, so I do believe a simple flip phone can be beneficial and necessary. Anything more is too much, unless you don’t have a computer and that’s your access to the online world, which is another technecessity.

      I think cells are a big distraction, though, and must be used, as with anything, wisely. With great power comes great responsibility.

      Did my first sentence put that song in your head? You know…

      Video killed the radio star…video killed the radio star…video killed the radio star…radio star…radio star.

      If not, then that should have done it. 🙂

  8. Really love the new space. This post is hilarious, and you make a good point. The DH and I often discuss the good old days when, if you left home, no-one could find you.

    Your point about how writers [Large, flashing electric arrow overhead points down] often self-interrupt by constantly checking Twitter, FB, and email is VERY true.

    I like the idea of the detox. I’m onboard with #1 and #3, but I’ll cut you if you try to take my smart phone. LOL. I thought I was the last person to join the smart phone revolution (thankfully, that is no longer true). However, now that I’ve joined I have no intention of going back. EVER.

    1. Ah…the good ol’ days. All these whippersnappers with their thingamajigs and doohickeys…flibbertygibbit!

      Just don’t lose yourself in that thing! I was walking through the store yesterday and this girl, head down and engrossed in her phone, almost ran into me. I said, “Need to watch where you’re going” and she turned and looked at me like, “How dare you! (I cut you).” Yep…I’m getting that cranky about it.

      Good to see you!!

  9. Loved your social media story!

    I don’t think I’m quite doing this social media thing right. I hop on, share info, gain info and get off again. I’ve never had the dedicated patience necessary for addiction.
    I do have a mobile, but don’t have a landline. I get a text about once every three or four days and maybe one call a week. I can’t remember the last time I made the effort to dial anyone’s number.
    My very awesome iPhone is used to tell the time and listen to audiobooks. Maybe I can turn off the annoying phone function.

    1. I’d say that you’re doing the social media thing perfectly, Charmaine! That’s about how I handle it. Now…I would probably be singing a different tune if I lived in a home that actually got cell reception, because I’ve considered switching to a smart phone and disconnecting the landline, but since I don’t…I DO love the new technology. Just not the abuse of it, which is so easy to fall into.

      I once stated that I lost power due to a sudden storm and can you believe that someone googled the weather in my area to see if it was true?! They didn’t make my Christmas card list that year.

      Good to see you. Don’t know why you had to be moderated (I know you hate that). Usually you’re cleared after the first time, but I don’t want to remove that option. I’m getting lots of spam on this new blog.

  10. I laughed. I couldn’t help it. But I confess, I’ll cut your heart out with a spoon should you try to take my Droid Razr Maxx.

    Filly has a cell, but she’s out of state for 25% of the year, and she can keep in contact with her dad and stepmom here, or me while she’s there. Through FB & Twitter I’ve finally managed a way to keep in contact my HUGE family (I have 18 living brothers & sisters alone – don’t make me bring out the nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles by number). Found long lost friends that have stepped back into my life and enriched it. I’ve managed to find a writer community that has kept me sane and allowed me to cheer for others. AND kept me moving forward – towards a dream five years ago I would never have thought to accomplish. Without the social media – I would never have learned most of the stuff I needed to.

    I can finally remember hundreds (literally) of birthdays, anniversaries, appointments, and deadlines. A GPS so I’m not constantly lost (real worry – do it all the bloody time – I get lost in my 900 sq. ft. apt), and have you ever been in an emergency, with a life on the line, in which you can’t get to a phone because it’s miles away? Talk to me when you do 🙂 My phone saved a friend once. And me twice.

    I rarely answer my phone – btw. I HATE talking on the phone. I keep it short if I have to talk to someone. Text messages are the preferred media.

    So yeah, we need to learn boundaries, to stop telling EVERYONE every time a bowel movement happens (one cousin is adamant about every S*I*N*G*L*E thing that he does *ewww* & he’s 32!!)and to stop the constant multitasking that leaves us with a longer To Do list…but at the same time…I have a spoon handy.

    This is a great blog. I love it. I must share on social media *snicker*

    1. Make sure the spoon is nice and RUSTY…I like a little iron with my heart.

      DANG GIRL—18 bros and sissies! What did your folks do for a living? Rest? Are you Mormon or something?

      But see, you use your technology and social media responsibly, the way I do. I learn from it, I utilize it to keep in touch (I hate to talk on the phone, too). And yeah…make new friends with it. But I’m not glued to it. And you got the point perfectly…I don’t need to know when baby Precious goes poo. Even if she was constipated earlier.

      THANKS for stopping by!

  11. :O :O :O :O

    Funny funny funny. But do you expect me to write or respond to this post? I’m confused. Please help. I’ll be waiting by the computer for your answer.

    You’re not missing the cell phone craze one bit, probably even saving yourself from some serious ear cancer. But I see you have a good handle on Facebook (a necessary evil) and Twitter (a complete enigma). You are a good reminder that we control the technology, not the other way around.

    1. Exactly, Joe (and good to see you). Like I commented to someone above, with great power comes great responsibility.

      I tried to text you to tell you to go about your business—that you didn’t have to wait by your computer—but I didn’t have a cell phone.

  12. Great post, ML. I especially like the “#ICutYou.” Nice touch. I have a cell phone but I call it a “dumb phone.” I use it for….drumroll, please…making and taking phone calls. I also use it for texts, but I hate texting because I have issues with it. And I just plain hate it. Pagers were great for blind dates. Also, pretending your phone went off because it was on vibrate, and it was your, say, brother, who’s in labor or having issues with his ovaries, might work too.

    PS Great to see you again. Thanks for stopping by.
    Be well.

    1. Funny, Robyn. But my brother had his tubes tied after his first set of quadruplets. I’ll have to use another one.

      Don’t be a stranger! There’s chocolate somewhere around here. 🙂

  13. Such a great post, Swift. Seriously. I was laughing, but I take this topic very serious! I used to be waaaaaay too connected to my phone… but I can proudly say that I’ve found balance–or try to with all things every day. I put it away when I write—and when it’s family time in the evenings. There’s health & magic in stepping away from technology and living! !!!

    1. Ohhhh…I’m so proud of you, grasshoppah. Yes, I wanted to emphasize the absurdity to which it can become, if you let it.

      Many years ago, on my old Facebook account, I found that I was spending way too much time on it being unproductive. “I can do more with this computer than play Bejeweled Blitz all day,” I said to myself.

      I prioritized, and that’s when I started writing. Much better.

      But you said it…finding the balance was key. I still have to use Facebook and Twitter and all those things, but I keep in mind what I’m doing and limit it to the task at hand. Goofing off is even “budgeted” into the schedule. I do allow myself a little of that.

      Thanks for coming by!

  14. Mike, sometimes I’m so “old school” it’s ridiculous. This post is hilarious and I totally agree with you. I don’t like being immediately accessible—never have, never will.

    I am shocked, however, you don’t own a cell phone. I thought I was the last person on earth to succumb to the dreaded cell phone (which I hardly use). I’m right there with you, pal, and even though I have a cell, I’d be perfectily fine not having one, too.

    For me, cell phones are like Twitter and blogs—get on board or get left behind. I still haven’t gotten on board with Twitter yet, and was hesitantly thrust into blogging. I think the days before cells phones and social media were glory days.

    1. If I got reception at home, I would own at least a basic one (probably a smart one, though, get the best bang for my buck), but since I don’t…

      Thing is, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. And yes…you DO need to get on Twitter. Seriously, it’s not time-consuming (for me) at all. And check out my writer’s page on Facebook. You have Facebook, don’t you? Just hit the F icon above!

  15. well you’re darn right! It’s best to unplug from social media (or media in general) if you want to get things done. Last night, I was tempted into watching the MTV movie awards, which finished at 11pm. I got up from the couch feeling disappointed at myself for wasting my time watching a silly show, instead of reading a book.


    1. Our family has always been TV watchers, but I learned to take or leave that a long time ago. Now, with my mom living with me, she likes me to watch with her. I look at the time spent as good, mindless, chewing-gum-for-the-brain, and quality time with Mom.

      Sometimes we have to allot for the fun…which may feel like a waste later…but not at the time! The brain does need a break every now and then.

  16. I must know boring people on Facebook. They never have exciting conversations like that – although I’ve heard of people like them. 😉

    I hate phones, don’t talk on phones, don’t want to be bothered by phone. I did break down and get a smart phone recently for an upcoming trip but I don’t surf the net on it or try to interact on FB with it. I got it so family who never look at their emails anymore can text me. Do they? No. *sigh*

    1. Luckily, I don’t know any like that, either…just know OF them. You see it all the time, and I think to myself, such a waste of a virtual life.

      No…I’m not big on phones, either. Barely answer them, and when I do, try to make it brief.

      Thanks for following! ‘Bout time. 🙂

      1. :P~~~~~~~~~~ I was following in Google Reader, then tried switching over to a new one. I’ve finally given up and gone to email. 🙂

      2. Me too. It’s just easier that way. As a matter of fact, after I wrote the above, I realized I hadn’t made that switch to email at YOUR site. Had to run over and do it real quick, lest I be whipped into submission by Mistress Snark. 🙂


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