Cell Phones

Cell-U-itus [a complex neurological syndrome caused by excessive use of wireless mobile cell phone technology; symptoms include brain inflammation, addictive-compulsive obsession, dependence, anxiety, depression and unusual or aberrant-like behavior].

The cell phone is a primitive communication device that exists on the frontier of modern technology, a diamond yet to be cut and polished. It is both a phenomenon and an institution, and for the majority of those who possess one, a habit turned vice.

The "cell" is obviously a gold mine for companies that understand its potential addiction. A corporate dream come true. Thanks to them most of us think of it as essential. Essential means "must have or will die".

But the cell phone is more than a license to print money for those who control the technology. It is and has become an emotional remedy for the human condition. For some, it is a connection to a world of false hope. To others it is their "soul" connection to business. For those desperate for love, attention and recognition from virtually anyone, it is a God-send. A "soother" of sorts for the needy and low of self-esteem. In fact a cell works even better than a pet for the same reasons.

As a mirror, cell use reflects every known human emotion. At one level, it even fulfills the role of psychiatrist without the fee. It's also most likely the greatest device in the world for worry warts, chatter-boxes, control freaks and scaredy-cats.

A wise friend once reminded me why he doesn't have a cell. He is a very successful well known health expert in great demand. He refers to the cell as a "social health disrupter". First the device itself and its annoying ring, the conditioned response to the ring, its negative impact on bystanders in hearing range, its rude and disruptive effect during conversation with "real" people, and finally, the most important point of all, the peace of mind impossible to gain or sustain by using one. Tragically, few care or fail to see the significance of peace of mind. What is that?

In November 2007 I traveled to Thessaloniki Greece to compete in the INBA Natural Olympia, the highest level of competitive NATURAL bodybuilding. I left without my cell phone.

During my stay in a tiny fishing village resort hotel on the Mediterranean coast I enjoyed a small room with no telephone. For five glorious days I lived without the sound of a cell or land line ringing in my ear.

Surprisingly, the effect was astonishing. I experienced a strong sense of inner calmness and tranquility of thought, something quite unlike what my busy cell-phone dependent personal and business lifestyle in Vancouver had created.

Upon my return, I terminated my cell phone account and decided to rely on the internet exclusively for all business and personal communication. Could we tour America, run our international business and communicate with our friends and family effectively without a cell? Is it possible to live without one?

Nine years later to 2016 I can tell you it was definitely the right move, a great decision reinforced by the reality of functional outcome. Not only are we able to operate CHI with internet technology and communicate with clients, friends and family, but there is no noise pollution. We have a toll-free message service that we can check anytime and respond to on the internet with the aid of Skype.

After living in the RV for more than 500 days I reached a breath-taking conclusion. It is better to be Cell-U-less and free, than have a cell and be a slave to it. My free time alone, especially when walking to and from the gym, or to the beach or the market, or when running simple errands, is enormously critical to my mental well-being. Because the "thing" isn't in my pocket, no one can disturb my peace with rhetoric or useless conversation. And if someone needs to get a hold of me, they can easily call my message service and leave a message.

How did people in my generation and every one else before me grow up without a cell? Well that's my point. We grew up.

Cell Phones: The World's Largest Biological Experiment Video

Look Up From Your Phone

Here are some real life examples of people I have observed using cell phones in the gym and during our tour of America.

Sally is working out in the gym (or so it seems) but she won't stop talking on her cell. She's on the phone non-stop from beginning to end of her workout. I watched her for nearly two hours and not once did she stop talking. Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah. She switches arms routinely and is careful to avoid any equipment or exercise that demands the use of both hands. You go girl!

Larry is lying down on a stretch mat flat-out having a cellular conversation. His eyes are glued on the ceiling. Over a period of 90 minutes he proceeds to lie on the mat, relax and have a nice chat. Not once does he move except to switch hands.

As I walk into the gym, a cell phone rings behind the main entrance counter. It belongs to the front desk receptionist. While speaking on her cell, she scans my card and smiles. I get the nod that it's okay to enter the member's area. I got a nod and a smile, but not a word.

On Huntington Beach CA I observe a fellow in hysterics on his cell phone. He is screaming and yelling and having a terrible argument with someone. Eventually he tells the person to F themselves, then turns and hurls the phone into the ocean. He marches off towards the parking lot still fuming, ranting and raving.

A well-dressed, middle-aged couple (male/female) walk out onto the patio of a beautiful hotel in Tucson AZ where we are seated. He is holding a cell with both hands text-messaging fervently. They proceed to sit down on a patio couch side-by-side. A server approaches and asks if they would like a drink. He nods without looking up. The woman orders for him. The sun is setting, the view is stunning and the air temperature is luscious. I can't help but notice her frustration. You can tell this woman wants some attention from this guy, perhaps to enjoy the romance of the moment, but continues to be ignored by him. Not once does he look up. Eventually, the woman stands up and wanders away by herself to the edge of the balcony. He doesn't flinch and continues to make finger-love to his cell. She has lonely eyes and looks despondent. I wonder, what is she thinking?

So which comes first, the cell phone or the demented human? I suppose the D-H because the cell is a by-product of human ingenuity. Does the cell itself cause addiction or is that a construct of the addict's mind and emotional state? Certainly not everyone abuses this privilege of convenience.

Perhaps the cell phone is merely an accomplice when held in the wrong hands. Cell phone technology is on the cusp of an exciting new frontier. Believe it or not technology is mankind's salvation and best hope for the future. But just like life in the old Wild West a little refinement and courtesy is in order. "Check your guns before entering town", as they say.

The mechanical instrumentation of the human species is at hand, literally. Do you serve your cell or does it serve you? Remember this as a practical adage for life, "The things you own end up owning you." Do you get an adrenaline rush when it rings? Do you run after your cell like a dog? Do you curse and swear if you lose it or experience a dropped call? Do you repeatedly interrupt live conversation with real people and make them feel less important than your damn cell? How about the monthly expense? Do you enjoy being taken for a ride and ripped off literally through your teeth?

The cell phone is nothing more than a functional tool but take notice how the communicator is utilized in Star Trek. No one interrupts anybody during a conversation and it's rarely used for more than 5 seconds. Hey, Gene Roddenberry was way ahead of his time. Beam me up Scottie! Get me off this planet!

And for all of you "out there" unwilling to let go, to relieve yourself of your obsession, don't worry, I still love you! No matter how free I think I am I still have my obsessions too.

2021 Update

In the spring of 2019 I agreed to look after my granddaughter Oliva (13) while her parents went to Europe on a work related excursion. That meant moving to Coquitlam for month and the thing was, they had no landline. So what to do? I had to create a way for Olivia to reach me and vice versa, as I had to pick her up from Volleyball practice, ballet training, take her to school, etc...Plus there was the emergency thing. So I broke down and purchased a cheap flip phone from Walmart for 50 bucks.

Well the truth is I've had that same cell phone now for three years, but rarely use it. My calls are short and sweet, and of course it is convenient at times for Tracy to reach me with a message. But the fact is the device for me is just a tool. I pay little attention to it and seldom even know if someone has called or left a message. My thought is that if someone needs to get me for something really important, they will, whether I have a cell or not. Anyway, that's my story!

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

As always, stay well and live free