I don’t want to be a Smart Phone Zom­bie

Connecticut Post - - OPINION - Allia Zobel Nolan, Nor­walk res­i­dent, has writ­ten more than 150 adult and chil­dren’s books. Her lat­est is “Laugh Out Loud.” Look for her, sans Smart Phone, at the Sau­gatuck Sto­ryfest in West­port on the green Oct. 13, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Only a hand­ful of peo­ple know my se­cret. I’ve done a good job of keep­ing it that way. But it’s time. I’m out­ing my­self. The pre­tense is over: I don’t own a Smart Phone. Re­ally? Se­ri­ously? Yes. Re­ally. Se­ri­ously.

But life with­out apps is no life at all, you in­sist. You shud­der even imag­ing it. No call­ing ahead for a Star­bucks’ Mac­chi­ato, or get­ting alerts when a bridge is out. No an­swer­ing email in the bath­tub, or check­ing if an an­tique is real or a fake. No lis­ten­ing to Lisa Scot­to­line books on tape, or set­tling ar­gu­ments by Googling facts. The ease, sim­plic­ity, knowl­edge; the coupons, groupons, loo­pons. All yours with a swipe of an in­dex fin­ger, you ar­gue. Why do things the hard way?

Well, I’m not a Lud­dite. And I’m not some anti-tech­nol­ogy hold­out. An au­thor, jour­nal­ist, wife, mother of two (fur chil­dren), I know how to get things done. I Face­book and tweet. I Snapchat and link in. I have a color prin­ter and an er­gonomic work­sta­tion. I know a Mi­crosoft scam when I hear one.

How­ever, I’m also aware I love toot­ing my own horn (and wait­ing on the con­grats that fol­low), look­ing at cute cat videos, and whiling away time on my of­fice com­puter. But I don’t want to do this wher­ever I am, no mat­ter who I’m with, for ev­ery sin­gle minute of the day and far into the night. And there’s the rub: if I owned a Smart Phone, I would.

I know my lim­i­ta­tions. I have an ad- dic­tive per­son­al­ity. And I don’t want to suc­cumb. I refuse to be tethered to a piece of metal — and like Pavlov’s dog, be a slave to rings, pings, and beeps that would have me grop­ing for my de­vice like a junkie over­due for a fix.

And I ad­mit it. I’m not im­mune. I’d fall in line with the rest of the Smart Phone Zom­bies. I’d walk around, mes­mer­ized by the pull of the blue light and the words crawl­ing across the screen like so many tiny ants. Or I’d stop short on the sidewalk, eyes wide with the rush, press­ing let­ters with my fly­ing op­pos­able thumbs in an ef­fort to com­bat “FOMO,” the fear of miss­ing out.

I get it, though. I un­der­stand why Smart Phone Zom­bies are ev­ery­where. Peo­ple feel the need to mul­ti­task. Just walk­ing is passé. Walk­ing and mak­ing a doc­tor’s ap­point­ment is a much bet­ter use of time. And if Smart Phone Zom­bies bump into passersby or risk caus­ing an ac­ci­dent? It’s the new norm, peo­ple ad­vise. Get used to it.

Then, too, no one talks to each other any­more. And why should they when they can whip out their own per­sonal entertainment cen­ter? Why bother con­vers­ing with a live per­son who’d prob­a­bly bore you to death or dis­agree with you? Isn’t it bet­ter to have your neu­rons ex­cited and chal­lenged by an on­line game, movie, or chat with your real friends, your real fam­ily — your So­cial Me­dia tribe who con­sis­tently feel the way you do and “like” your ev­ery thought?

But, hey, I re­ally do un­der­stand the fear of miss­ing out. I just process it in a dif­fer­ent way. Like a Smart Phone Zom­bie, I want to know what’s go­ing on. I want to be up to date, too. The dif­fer­ence is I fig­ure most things can wait. In fact, every­thing can wait.

Blasé? Per­haps. Still, these days, my want­ing to be con­nected has be­come more in­tro­spec­tive. With re­cent re­ports of so many icons pass­ing, and the daily news of calami­ties here and abroad, my fear is not that I’ll miss out on a coupon from Chico’s, but that I’ll miss out on the here and now, the present mo­ment, life it­self.

I won’t be in this place, in this time, ever again. So I don’t want to miss out on au­tumn sun­sets streaked in pur­ple and rose, or spy­ing two fawns pranc­ing across my back­yard — be­cause I have my face in a phone. Sounds soppy, for sure. But, af­ter all, this is my con­fes­sion.

Yes, I don’t own a Smart Phone and it’s quite lib­er­at­ing. So don’t ex­pect any nanosec­ond re­sponses about my tag sale date, or con­grat­u­la­tions on your new cat. I’ll an­swer when I get back to my com­puter.

For now, though, I’m go­ing out and will be glo­ri­ously un­reach­able.

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