Writer/director Peter Farrelly (“Dumb & Dumber,” “There’s Something About Mary”) says in a recent piece for Huffington Post that we’re all addicted to our cell phones.

“I don’t have a cellphone. Never have. I’m not bragging. Fact is, I realize that to most people this makes me Dooshy McDouche […]

I’m not a complete technophobe. I do email and got lasik surgery and I like those new, vaporizer one-hitters that you can use in restaurants, and I’ve even done a few tweets from my computer this year. And, like I said, I have phones at home and at work and even built in to my car, but you know when I don’t have one? When I’m walking down a country road or on a beach or at a football game […]

And let’s admit something else — they’re not really cellphones anymore. Calling an iPhone a phone is like calling a jumbo jet an oven. Yeah, there’s a phone in there somewhere but that’s really a computer your kids are staring at when you’re cruising past the Grand Canyon in your Odyssey. Doesn’t that make you a little mad? What happened to driving in a car and just looking out the window? Your kids are giving up the entire physical world for this narcissistic/sychophantic/addictive need to follow someone or see who’s following them.”

— Peter Farrelly

I’m not ready to give up my iPhone just yet, but I do think Farrelly is onto something. I’ve felt that way for a while. Nearly everything new replaces something old. But how often do we stop and ask ourselves if the new thing is better than the old thing; is it really an improvement?

For example, conversations like this one annoy the crap out of me, and they’re becoming increasingly common.

Do you have ___ yet?

I don’t understand.

Didn’t you get my email?

When did you send it?

Half an hour ago.

No, I haven’t seen it yet.

Well, I need you to take care of ___ ASAP!

I understand, but for future reference, email is not a time sensitive medium.

Huh?

If you need something from me quickly, pick up the telephone and call me. Use a direct form of communication.

What are you talking about?

I can give you more examples. The small, shy child who is given an iPod/DVD player and is thereby rewarded for self-isolating behavior rather than lovingly encouraged to play (i.e. develop social skills) with others his/her own age. Friends who would rather spend half an hour texting back in forth when the same conversation would take five minutes via telephone. The poolside parent glued to the laptop while on vacation.

Technology is great until it isn’t. Technology is useful until it starts using us. I’m a big fan of technology, but I treat it like it’s a dance with the devil. Never forget that.

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