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Jerry Brown and cell phones

Jerry Brown and cell phones

Posted By Sunny Lockwood

When I read that California Governor Jerry Brown’s first executive order required state employees to return 48,000 cell phones paid for by tax-payers, I couldn’t believe how happy I felt. 

I’ve never liked cell phones and I’ve always liked Jerry Brown.  

I like Jerry because he seems to have a spiritual core, that rare awareness that we’re all together in this life, and the stronger among us should help the weaker. He seems to believe that we are our neighbor’s keepers and that the world is better when we do our best to treat one another well. I like the fact that he seems as willing to share in the sacrifices as to share I the riches. 

Back when he was governor the first time, I loved that he drove an old car and that he refused to live in the governor’s mansion. He seemed so unusually selfless back then in a world of strutting, self-centered ambitious politicians. 

Since those days, he’s had lots of seasoning at the local (mayor of Oakland, Calif.) and state (California Attorney General) levels and now he’s back in Sacramento as governor. He’s got a state full of political and financial problems and who knows how he’ll do as governor. 

But I love his cell phone decision. 

It is said that his move to get rid of half the cell phones in state offices may save $20-million. I bet it’ll save much more than that. Stopping all the constant interruptions from incoming calls may actually lead to more productivity among workers. Workers might actually be able to concentrate on their work for a change. 

When you carry your own phone, it’s surprising how many “important” calls you get from family members, friends and associates during work hours. If those callers have to go through a secretary or office manager, they often prefer to wait until after work hours to take up your time.  

The addictive nature of cell phones – people always checking their email, the news, their twitter account, looking for photos from their friends or children – can keep employees as jittery and pre-occupied as a smoker trying to kick the habit. That certainly cannot be good for the employer’s bottom line. And in politics, the employer is me (and you) the tax payer. 

Since it’s been shown that driving while talking on a cell phone (even a hands-free cell) is as dangerous as driving under the influence, Jerry Brown’s move might even save some lives.  

Sweetheart Al and I don’t have cell phones.  He used to have one when he was working as a general contractor. Problem is, cell phones don’t work well in the rural area where we live, and he finally gave it up. 

Al and I talk about getting a cell phone and keeping it in the car for emergencies. I believe that would be a good use for a cell phone.  

The thing is, I find the idea of being constantly available to everyone by way of a cell phone totally repulsive. Who wants to be connected to everyone all the time? I certainly don’t. I want to choose when to be connected, and to whom and under what circumstances. 

From my observation, and I could be wrong since I’m not a cell-phoner, folks who are always relating to their cells (texting, checking email, sending pictures) spend less actual time with their friends and family. Less real time bonding, talking, walking, being together. And I like the real thing even though it takes more effort. 

Also, I treasure solitude -- the precious aloneness that gives me time to think, ponder, daydream or just indulge in remembering.  

I like long stretches of uninterrupted time when I can try to memorize a poem or passage that stirs my soul or tickles my funny bone. Or when I can read a book or simply do nothing (Do nothing at all? what a concept!) 

And of course, there’s the health concern.  Cell phones emit radio energy. Holding a little microwave oven next to your ear doesn’t seem to me to be particularly wise.  No one has the slightest idea what effect long-term exposure to cell phone radiation has on the body. It sure can’t be beneficial. 

Still, the wild popularity of cell phones shows no sign of abating.  There were 500,000 cell phone subscribers in the U.S. in 1988. By 1993 that number had grown to 13,000,000. In 2006, 223 million. And the numbers continue to rise. 

So my cell phone opinion is very much in the minority.  

Nonetheless, my new governor’s first executive order made me very happy this week.

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Read more of my work at sunnylockwood.com

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