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OMG! Is my smart phone making me stupid?

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Lynne D. Schwabe Lynne D. Schwabe

Lynne D. Schwabe was owner of Schwabe-May of Charleston, ran her own marketing consulting firm and is a nationally recognized motivational speaker. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Women's Wear Daily, and has appeared on CNBC's Power Lunch. She is now director of development for the National Youth Science Foundation. She can be reached at

I'm not as tied to my cell phone as other people seem to be to theirs. The minute the airplane has landed, I don't check my messages. I don't call anyone from Kroger for advice about whether I should buy Cheerios or Raisin Bran. I don't keep my exercise program on my phone, to carry around with me at the gym to make sure I don't miss a single torturous machine. I don't use the GPS to find out where I'm going, because no matter how hard I squint, I can't read the teeny, tiny directions. As for watching a movie on my phone? Forget it. No movie is so compelling that I can't wait to go to a theater or watch it on TV.

Actually, I really don't like to talk on the phone all that much. With a few possible exceptions, any call that I get could be answered 24 hours later, rather than within 10 seconds of receipt. Being constantly connected is irritating. Yet, I've gotten compulsive about finding out who has called or texted or emailed; not a good thing when merging onto a six-lane interstate in rush hour traffic.

Then, revelation! A friend sent me an article for a blog she writes — And That's the Way I See It — called "Is My Smart Phone Making Me Stupid?" Since she is young and technologically savvy, she points out all the things that her phone does for her that she used to do for herself. She thinks that her smart phone is taking over active brain function, thus, making her stupid. My phone doesn't make me stupid because I am letting it take over vital functions in my daily life; it makes me feel that it's smarter than I am because I can't figure out how to let it take over those vital functions.  

Of the 21 little buttons waiting to connect me to the wonders of the universe, I use 10. More than half of my phone's capability goes wanting because its owner is wanting. Apps, for example — I have three, which I never look at. I don't see the point. Same with iTunes. I think this is an age function. There are enough noisy distractions in my life. When I get into the car, I enjoy the bubble of silence. I really don't need another device blasting anything at me.

I don't get what YouTube does for anyone (and I can see it on my computer); I don't watch the stock market. Voice memos? Can't figure them out. Notes? I still carry a small pad. Game center: I'm not busy enough as it is that I have to be playing games? I suspect that the calculator was responsible for making me bounce checks. As for making my phone "talk" to my computers so that all machines are in sync, no way! I'll never figure that one out. 

As mentioned, the GPS is designed for a person with 20-year-old vision. How can you put something into the GPS, figure out where you need to go, and then do so while driving, all the while following the instructions on the GPS? I'm baffled. At least, my car GPS talks to me so that I can keep my eyes on the road. And, as appealing as it is to get it to talk in different accents, I can't figure that out either.

Admittedly, the clock is a great function. I love the weather thingie. The camera, when I can make it work right, is awesome. I love being able to carry a small scrapbook of pictures of my grandchild around so that I can bore friends at the supermarket. Having my contacts at my fingertips is terrific, if I've remembered to put in the area code with the phone number. I hate it when a friend says to me, condescendingly, "Clearly, someone isn't using her calendar function." I do use a calendar function: on the paper calendar on my desk at my office.

I can text: very slowly, making many mistakes. I've just begun to figure out what a friend calls "third grade writing" and am using "u" for "you" and "r" for "are," and so on. OMG, I know what a BFF is. Any other acronyms or text message shorthand are way over my head. 

There are just so many times each day when my smart phone makes me feel stupid. Growing up, I learned about the wonders of the universe by experiencing them rather than having a small device filter them for me. I guess those days r over.

404 and won't have probably 4EAE. It's not that I am AAK, I am just BSBD&NE. Oh, and an OL. HAND.