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D.L. Stewart: Sex or smartphones? You make the call

In a recent New York Times piece, columnist Jane E. Brody reflected upon the tyranny of technology.

“Too many of us have become slaves to the devices that were supposed to free us, giving us more time to experience life and the people we love,” she wrote. “Instead, we’re constantly bombarded by bells, buzzes and chimes that alert us to messages we feel compelled to view and respond to immediately.”

The evidence of our device dependency is compelling and maybe even a bit depressing. According to various studies:

  • One out of three people say they would rather give up sex than give up their smartphones.
  • Most people check their smartphones 150 times a day or every six minutes. That’s based on 16 hours of awake time, so it doesn’t take into account people who set their alarms to wake up every hour to check their messages.
  • “A clear majority of students” experienced distress when they tried to go without their electronic devices for 24 hours.
  • Young adults are now sending an average of 110 texts per day.

While it’s tempting to blame all this on 18 to 34-year-old millennials who appear to spend virtually every waking moment texting, tweeting and Instagramming, another study found that Americans between the ages of 35 and 49, are even more obsessed, spending just under seven hours a week on social media.

But apparently no one has bothered to study how much those of us who are over the age of 50 use our smartphones, even though 77 percent of us have them. Maybe that’s because the statistics would be skewed by the fact some of us spend just under seven hours a week trying to figure out HOW to use them.

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On my smartphone, for instance, there are 36 icons. I don’t know how they got there or what to do with most of them.

One of them apparently has something to do with music, because one day my smartphone started broadcasting some guy singing “Home On The Range” and I had no idea how to shut him up. I tapped all 36 icons as hard as I could, but the guy just kept yodeling about wanting to live with roaming buffalo. I tried asking Siri, but her answer was drowned out by the guy going on and on about deer and antelope playing. Just as mysteriously as it started, it stopped, which may have had something to do with the way I bounced my smartphone on the floor.

Despite frustrations like that, I consider my smartphone to be an invaluable device, although I’m not sure I’d give up sex for it.

But I wouldn’t mind having that option.

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