Smartphones: Indispensable?

A poll came out recently that revived my hope in America. We’re on the road to recovery. We don’t even need a new president. We can let the Supreme Court or Stephen Colbert take control.

A survey of 1,000 stalwart, enlightened, progressive, consumer-oriented Americans concluded that when they wake up in the morning, “the first thing” many of them reach for is … their smartphones. The poll, however, said nothing about their views on the Iran nuclear treaty or Taylor Swift’s latest album.

Normally I’d grumble, “It’s those #%!@#! kids who don’t do nuthin’ except text-message.” But I’ve changed my thinking. This, I now believe, is a good thing. So what if they spend all their time caressing their smartphones in bed, out of bed, under the bed? At least the first thing they’re reaching for isn’t a cigarette, which is the first thing I used to reach for, I’m ashamed to admit.

Even though this love affair with smartphones is turning people into robots, they’re saving the U.S. healthcare system trillions of dollars because if they’re reaching for their cell phones first, they’re not reaching for Egg McMuffins with twin sausage patties, which would only contribute to the obesity epidemic, not to mention high cholesterol.

Sad to say, the first thing some of my family members and friends reached for first in the morning was a drink, and they usually ended up with a problem, although the fortunate ones made it into AA. So I would encourage Americans to continue grabbing their phones in lieu of reaching for a drink and/or illegal substances.

The poll, conducted by Braun Research in cooperation with Bank of America, said that 35 percent of respondents reached for their smartphones, 17 percent for a cup of coffee, and only 10 percent for their partners, for unexplained reasons.

Some 44 percent of Millennials love their phones so much they fall asleep with them in their hands, and 36 percent admitted to “constantly checking and using” them.

As you can imagine, this research raises serious questions. First of all, why would Bank of America spend money on something like this? Why not conduct a survey about young people who can’t find jobs or afford to pay for college? Or a survey about people who get injured because they’re too busy text-messaging to watch where they’re going?

Now that I got that off my chest, let me make a confession. I’m among the sad sub-group whose partners reach for the phone first. Here are the painful details. The first thing my wife reaches for isn’t me … it’s her iPhone. She checks the weather and then rechecks the weather. She has this thing about the weather. Does she think that constantly calling up the Weather Channel will break the heatwave?

Then, she informs me several times that there’s a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms — at least until 7 p.m., when there’s only a 40 percent. When the night passes with no thunderstorm activity, I realize the chances of a thunderstorm were about as likely as my winning Powerball.

I suppose I should be grateful for this unsolicited information because I never check the weather. The first thing I ask my fellow commuters when I get to the train station platform in the morning is “What’s it supposed to do today?” And everyone has a different answer.

My personal forecasting technique is to pull aside the shades and look up at the sky to see if the sun is shining, which has proved quite effective over the years. In fact, I’d bet my track record is better than a lot of weather forecasters, and certainly better than my fellow commuters.

I NEVER reach for my smartphone when I wake up. On many mornings, I reach for the Flonase nasal spray, especially when the high pollen count makes my nose run. Otherwise, I reach for my eyeglasses so I don’t walk into the closet door.

I avoid my smartphone because I’m at the stage in life when no news is good news, which means to say most emails and text-messages are either annoying or work-related or both.

I hope young people eventually reach this stage and realize it’s better not to be so popular that you get deluged with emails and messages from people who want something.

When they understand that fundamental, life-transforming truth, the first thing they’ll reach for in the morning may be their partner or their household pet. Or perhaps they’ll just savor the silence and listen to the birds chirping. A little silence and a little chirping never hurt anyone. It’s better than checking text-messages.

Contact Joe Pisani at joefpisani [at]