Jewish World Review Dec. 30, 2004 / 18 Teves, 5765

Joseph C. Phillips

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Confessions of a a tech-aholic | Immediately before Christmas I had an emergency root canal. Something went wrong and my Christmas weekend was spent popping vicodin and Motrin like M& M's. The entertaining of my children was left to my wife. I stayed in bed, emerging every couple hours to get something to drink and TO CHECK MY EMAIL! Clearly, I have a problem and I need help! My head was ready to explode and still I had to sign on to the Internet.

Hello. My name is Joseph and I am a tech-aholic.

I marvel at how intertwined all the Gizmos I have around the house have become with my life. How did I ever live without email, a cell phone and the handheld computer? All of my music - hundreds of compact discs, cassette tapes and albums (yes I still have vinyl)   —   can now fit into a device the size of a shoebox. Forget indoor plumbing. I can pause live T.V.! And yet for all the promise of convenience, the fact is: I have become a slave to Technology.

I am now accessible at anytime, all the time. With Blackberry's, cell phones and wi fi, the excuse that "I didn't get the message" no longer flies. In a move that will signal the end of the last bastion of solitude, the FAA is now considering allowing in-flight cell phone usage on passenger jets. Please, L-rd! No! I will go mad sitting through a transcontinental flight listening to choruses of "Can you hear me now? How about now?"

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Like most addicts, my habit is fueled more by a devotion to the drugs' promise of liberation rather than the reality of servitude it delivers.

I begged my wife for Tivo and now I watch more television than ever before. The Internet has put mountains of information at my virtual fingertips and yet my desk is overflowing with paper. And it doesn't stop. We continue to march headlong into technological bondage. My wife and I are planning to network our entire house so now we can surf the web while sitting in our beds. If that is the only thing we can think of to do while in our bedroom we have definitely been married too long.

I have one of the new fangled wireless, voice activated phones that is supposed to save time and make driving safer. I say a name in the phone followed by a location   —   Home, work or mobile   —   and the phone dials that number. Of course since all of that information is prerecorded, I have to say the name into the phone with the exact voice inflection I used when I recorded it. This means actually connecting a call often takes oh- anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half as the phone continually rejects my request because I am not speaking loud enough, my inflection is wrong, or the tone is a little off. And if I have a cold just forget it. It is much easier to simply dial the number direct while weaving all over the road like all the other folks who are trying to talk on the phone while they drive.

My palm pilot has recently taken to resetting itself because, well, it has a mind of its own. This can be a problem when I am away from my home computer and need an address or phone number but my palm has decided to reset its memory. I have been a devoted palm pilot user for years but now I am seriously considering a return to paper and pencil. It isn't that I have suddenly decided to swim against the tide of forward progress-it is just that this weekend has me thinking: I have got to get this monkey off my back!

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JWR contributor Joseph C. Phillips, professional actor, published writer and public speaker, appeared in a recurring role on The Cosby Show and a variety of TV sitcoms. Comment by clicking here.

10/02/02: 'Diverse' or just confused?
09/17/02: Reflecting on High Noon

© 2002, Joseph Phillips