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Greatest inventions of the 20th century? Don’t count cellphones: Ed O'Connor

Posted 5/8/19

I was reminiscing the other day, or if you prefer waxing nostalgic, about inventions of the 20th century.

There certainly have been some incredible ones … the radio, the airplane, the …

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Greatest inventions of the 20th century? Don’t count cellphones: Ed O'Connor


I was reminiscing the other day, or if you prefer waxing nostalgic, about inventions of the 20th century.

There certainly have been some incredible ones … the radio, the airplane, the television, radar, jet engines, the space shuttle, polio vaccine, pacemakers, transistors, microwave ovens, the compact disc, the computer, the ballpoint pen, leisure suits … this just scratches the surface of what has become second nature for us.

Then I thought to myself, “Self, which is the one invention that I have found to be the single worst?” Hmmmmm, let’s see. What invention has caused more disruption, stress, accidents, promoted rudeness, driven people apart, has hurt intellect and has almost ended the art of conversation? That certainly is an easy call. The cellphone!

I submit that cellphones should only be issued to people who need to respond to emergencies: doctors, EMTs, hospital staff, pastors, police, firefighters, divorce lawyers and drug dealers — you know, the really important people who make a big difference in our lives.

Why should the ordinary or less-than-ordinary schmucks such as myself be allowed to own these devices? Is it really necessary to be able to call from the grocery store to see if Little Ralphie wants either Cocoa Puffs or Cocoa Krispies? Heck, Little Ralphie is 26 and lives in mommy’s basement. Let him buy his own damned cereal.

I recently saw a cartoon that showed that the reason that they are called “cell” phones — they have made us prisoners. A lot of truth is found in humor.

But now the step-ups from the cellphone are the smartphone and the iPhone. At least between the smartphone and the user, one of them is smart.

Then there is the iPhone. After being in eight different countries in the past eight years, it finally dawned on me what the “i” in iPhone means. It stands for idiot! I certainly see a lot of idiots attempting to operate them.

I really think that they should be called fiPhones. You can figure that one out for yourselves.

If you want to see the nearest thing to mind-numbed zombies you will ever see in your life (other than liberals), just sit and observe the phone-addicted morons trying to navigate sidewalks or cross the street, trying to avoid walking into cars, telephone poles and other halfwits. They can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, but seeing them attempting to talk, text and walk simultaneously is really a treat to behold.

According to

1. Phone addiction is often likened to drug addiction.

2. Phone addiction can drastically affect the ability to socially interact.

3. With phone addiction, the phone becomes a compulsion.

4. Phone addicts can fall into depression from lack of phone use.

5. Phone addicts can feel a high level of anxiety when they cannot use the phone.

6. Phone addiction has been likened to gambling.

7. People who are phone addicts may readily admit that they are addicted.

8. Phone addicts complain more about phone loss than they do about losing TV or computer access.

9. Phone addicts often interact with their phones like it is another person.

10. Phone addicts cannot find other things to make them happy.

11. Phone addicts need their phone to help boost their mood.

12. Phone addiction can be life endangering.

13. Phone addicts are less likely to engage in meaningful conversation.

14. Some phone addicts send more than 150 messages a day.

15. Phone addiction and materialism are often correlated.

16. Phone addiction and impulsiveness are often correlated.

17. Phone addicts may have an inability to sit in silence.

18. Phone addicts may end up with a feeling of being cut off.

19. Phone addicts have high levels of sensitivity.

20. Phone addicts may have an inability to form lasting relationships.

21. Phone addicts cannot deal well with down time.

22. Phone addicts use the phone as a way to avoid social interaction.

23. There are possible health consequences to phone addiction.

24. Phone addicts very often deal with debt.

25. Phone addiction can have an effect on diet.

I really detest texting.

An example of really meaningful texting:

“Hi Ethel, how R U?”

“OMG I M fine, Mabel. N U?”


“Ware R U?”

“I M at Walmart”

“me 2”

“Which area?”

“In the bathroom”

“me 2”

“R U in the stall next to me?”

“Must B, I C ur shoes”

“we will have 2 get 2gether soon”



A few other facts from the site:

• An average person checks their phone 110 times/day, while the more addicted check their phones as much as 900 times a day.

• One in three mobile phone owners would rather give up sex than their phones.

• Many car accidents are due to cellphones.

• 72 percent of people state that there is very little chance that they will ever move 5 feet away from their phone.

• For every 100 hours that you spend talking on the phone, you increase the risk of brain cancer by as much as 5 percent.

• Treatment is now being offered for cellphone addiction

OK, I’ll admit it. I own a cellphone. I bought one more than six years ago for $30. I know how to call and receive calls — that’s it. I have no idea how to access the voicemail. If somebody wants me badly enough, they can call back. I spend about $30 yearly on minutes.

The cellphone and derivatives. Good invention? Bad invention? You decide.

Leaving Ecuador

We have sold everything including most clothes and personal items. On May 13, we will leave Ecuador and fly to Eastern Europe for an extended vacation and do some traveling in that part of the world.

The past few weeks we have been staying in an Airbnb. Our days are spent tying up loose ends getting ready for the trip. I will let my fan club know where to forward my letter.

My next column will be sent from who-knows-where. The only thing I know is that it won’t be from Bainbridge, Lower Royalton or Shelley Island. My passport doesn’t cover those locations.

One final unrelated thought: When politicians tax Peter to pay Paul, they can always count on Paul’s vote.

Until next time from your non-addicted buddy ... Eddy O

Ed O’Connor, a former resident of Middletown and Lower Swatara Township, is an expatriate living in Cuenca, Ecuador.