I am an on-call Chaplin at a local hospital a day or two a week; meaning I am to come to the hospital when called in for an emergency. Morning, noon and night whether I'm on the road, in my garden or sound asleep -- I am available with my trusty cell phone at my side. What a marvel!
Over the past 20 years, driving an older vehicle, I have found myself "broken down" with some regularity along the road. Within a few minutes a tow truck arrives to my rescue; all due to having a cell phone.
Living in a rural setting, surrounded by a foot of snow and no electricity, with no difficulty I have contact with the outside world using my cell phone.
Some years ago, repairmen were in my attic and accidentally cut an electric wire which caught the attic on fire. Immediately calling the fire department on my cell phone saved the day and the house.
As a writer, every week I find myself dialing "Google" for the spelling/definition of words, along with Biblical quotes.
Such experiences as these are quite typical for many of us today. The benefits of the cell phone are beyond measure. Years ago, such incredible service would have been truly unbelievable.
We Americans, however, have developed difficulty in dealing with silence; attached to the whole gamut of electronic communication gizmos. Silence makes many of us Americans nervous today within 10 seconds.
Our media mania has done a job on us! Many see driving a car without the radio on as being weird and strange. It is estimated that 50% of us keep a TV going in our homes today -- watching it or not -- just to keep the dread of silence away.
Enjoying one's space, one's thoughts, one's silence, one's person -- reflective solitude -- is becoming a rarity for many, being bombarded by perpetual distractions. Of the world's population (7.53. billion), an incredible 66% have mobile devices for communicating. The remaining 34% are still living as humanity has from the beginning -- communicating with those around them with much time for personal solitude; engaging in a free flow of private thoughts and reflections; in touch with one's feelings
Losing this touch with self is the big causality of our day; obsessed with electronic communications; developing a hyper-dependence on the cell phone especially. Lacking the ability to be alone in silence, to enjoy one's own person, can be critically debilitating. Engulfed in distractions, understanding and respecting who we are cannot happen.
Further, an on-going need to leave one's own person to electronically converse with others, easily leads to being socially handicapped -- unable to develop a face-to-face interpersonal relationship; unable to even have friends. An obsessive dependency on the cell phone sets the stage for becoming a social isolate; with psychopathic tendencies to withdraw in anger from people [a formula for developing a "shooter"].
Defending one's independence and unique personal traits requires some reflective quiet time. It requires enjoying ourselves and respectfully giving solo time to self, being with one's self.
As with most all wonderful advances to our earthly stay, there is a flip-side. So it is facing the perks and perils of cell phones.
The Rev. John Burkhart, Ph.D., is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of psychology; he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his blog at inspirationsandideas.