Friday July 20, 2018

Seares: When phones ‘may not be used’

THE caution on use of smartphones by lovers was made last year after a study published in the journal “Psychology of Popular Culture” was reported by “Time” magazine (April 28, 2016). “Time” warned: “Nothing kills romance faster than pulling out a smartphone, and now research confirms it.”

The ban on mobile phones or tablets at masses -- if one deems a papal complaint as an order, at least to the Catholic clergy and laity -- was issued last Wednesday during the pope’s weekly audience at St. Peter’s Square.

First, the effect on romance, in order of time, not because it’s more important than behavior at mass.

Romance killer

The study that “Time” reported said “real-life interactions are dulled” when a person feels the need to check his phone and the partner doesn’t feel good about it. Usually during love-making or soon after, or at any other moment when the smartphone comes between and competes for the lover’s need -- and jealousy kills the romance.

Related to the “Time” article was the March 24, 2015 study of England’s University of Derby and reported by “International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning.” Most smartphone users interviewed admit “distractions from many aspects of their behavior, including employment, studies and hobbies.”

Like booze, drugs

Can the harmful effects be on par with those from cigarettes and alcohol? One professor said he doesn’t suggest that. But he pushes for smartphones to carry a health warning. More recent advocates against excessive use of smartphones warn of narcissism and neuroticism. Others say that too much phone use produces dopamine, as in the chemical rush, the “feel-good” effect of drugs or booze.

That may be a stretch to many phone users who think that people are more connected now than ever before. Even Pope Francis had talked of the internet, social media and text messages as the “gift of God.” And he himself is a Twitter user (at least four million followers).

Gifts for ill

But even gifts of God can be used for ill. Phones and tablets may connect families torn apart by work and enable lovers to swap love words without climbing a balcony. But it also facilitates illicit meeting of adulterers or coup plotters or sets off a terrorist’s bomb.

Pope Francis must know it. Earlier, he encouraged the young to swap smart phones with pocket-size Bibles. Last Nov. 8, he asked churchgoers, including the clergy, not to use smartphones during mass.

Limit, not ban

Studies so far won’t persuade Congress to ban smartphones, not even a warning on the package (the proposal of the late Provincial Board Member Arleigh Sitoy to print fat content in Carcar’s “chicharon” would’ve better chances). Apparently, as of now, the harm could only from inordinate use of the device.

And the phone owner and his family. friends, classmates or co-workers can recognize symptoms more quickly. Not always though: a “New Yorker” cartoon showed all family members at the dinner table, all quiet and focused on their respective gadgets.

Pope Francis earlier worried about death of face-to-face conversation. This week, he griped about lifting of hearts at mass being replaced with lifting of phone cameras. Say cheese.