Lose the Connection

Lose the Connection
Pentecost 34

As we discussed last week, more people have mobile or cell phones in the world than have access to sanitary toilets or safe drinking water. Without spending days (and we really could) on what that says about mankind’s priorities, let’s look at just how those cell phones can turn the ordinary into something extraordinary.

Recently I realized a teacher friend was wearing an Apple watch. In their advertisements, the company claims your Apple watch will tell the world who you are. Since the styling is personalized, that does make sense. I failed to realize my friend had one because hers is neither flashy nor particularly stylized. In short, it looks like a square black watch on a simple and classy black band. Because she is a teacher with children, having the instant notifications and access to call if help is immediately needed makes perfect sense. Moreover, it is practical and a wonderful safety feature. I think all classroom teachers should have one.

Of course, there is the danger of someone misusing such a device. Talking on it as a telephone when they should be working is always a good reason to ban all cell phones and smart devices from the workplace. Still, what about those people who just cannot put their smart phones down at all?

Recently I attended a dinner party and everyone placed their phone on the table besides their plate. I thought it a sign of the times that the proper place setting now included space for a smart phone. I understand their attraction. What I do not understand is the addiction to them.

In a study published two years ago, Consumer Reports found one in ten participants admitted to using their cell phones during times of intimacy. Yes, folks, I do mean when they are having sex. The old manage a trois now means two people and a smart phone. A 2013 Mobile Consumer Habits report stated that twelve percent of those interviewed used their smart phone in the shower while over fifty percent admitted to texting while driving, an action that is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.

There is even a term for that rush of panic you experience when you don’t know where your phone is or realize you left it at home. Nomophobia is the word used to describe that panic that seventy-three percent of us report feeling when we and our phone are apart. In Great Britain fifty-one percent admitted to experiencing “extreme tech anxiety”, an occurrence when one is off the grid and has no access to the technology that has become so commonplace in today’s world.

Cell phones are not the real problem. How we use them is the issue. With the technology advancing at a rate of nanoseconds, it is impossible to stay completely up-to-date and own the latest and greatest. We even experience a sense of dread in wondering what to do with old devices and most of us have a drawer that could pass as a museum for the history of the mobile telephone.

Why not turn that ordinary out-of-date telephone into something extraordinary and instead of feeling anxious, develop a sense of pride? One such way to do this is to recycle your cell phones and support US troops fighting for freedom around the world. According to the website smartphonerecycling.com, up to three hundred dollars will be donated to Operation Gratitude for each cell phone donated. “Operation Gratitude (OperationGratitude.com) seeks to lift troops’ morale, & bring a smile to their faces by sending care packages to service members in harm’s way & Wounded Warriors here at home.”

Verizon Wireless has long been a partner to the National Network to End Domestic Violence. A donated telephone will be refurbished and sold and the proceeds given to help stop domestic violence, protect the victims of such, and sponsor workshops to help those victims get back on the feet and be self-supporting. More information can be found at nnedv.org/getinvolved/donatephone.html. “With the funds raised from the sale of the refurbished phones, Verizon Wireless donates wireless phones and airtime to victims, and provides funding and other contributions to nonprofit domestic violence shelters and prevention programs across the country.”

Another great way to let your old cell phone become extraordinary is to donate it to Phones 4 Charity. This organization also aids victims of domestic violence with safe shelters. Their website is http://www.phones4charity.org/page/donate-domestic. Some telephones are refurbished and made 911 compatible so that victims have a resource to get assistance if needed. Those unable to be used will be recycled for metal and plastic components in accordance with federal and local environmental standards and laws.

Lose that connection to your old cell phone and help others in need and who are fighting to defend freedom. Make the ordinary telephone a work of extraordinary proportions and help someone in the process. You might even gain a clean drawer! What you will gain is the knowledge that you have made a healthy connection by losing that old phone connection.

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