DeWayne's World - The first step is admitting I have a problem

DeWayne Bartels

When my daughter, Brandy, got a Mesmerize Android phone for Christmas the die was cast.

She could not wait to show it to me.

She had access to the web, e-mail, Facebook and so much more on her phone.

“Dad, you need one of these. It would make your job so much easier,” she said.

She set me to thinking. It would be nice to check my e-mails while in Germantown Hills. It would be nice to make a Facebook post while in Metamora. It would be nice to update appointments in my phone’s calendar while in Eureka. But, I dismissed it.

Then my old cell phone — a hand-me-down from a daughter-in-law after she ran over it with her car — just gave out. I had to have a new one.

My daughter took her mother and me to U.S. Cellular. We walked out with two Android phones — the Optimus.

This is quite a phone.  It’s a miniature computer. It is quite a step up from the days when at my grandparent’s house I had to wait my turn to use the phone because they had a party line.

And, here I was, just days after getting the phone sitting in Metamora’s Square, ironically in front of Picadilly Place (an antique consignment store), posting to Facebook.

Technology is wonderful, except that I do not want to turn it off. I can turn it off. But, it’s like a drug. I’m addicted to my phone. I reach for it before a cigarette first thing in the morning.

Now, I can keep up with Charlie Sheen’s latest rant, or find out if Justin Bieber has a new girlfriend making my life complete.    

I can recall not so many years ago I could be cut off from the world if I wanted to be. For years I refused to carry a cell phone. It drove my bosses crazy.

“What if we need to get a hold of you?” they would say. I’d shrug and respond, “I don’t want to be found.”

That drove them nuts.

They weren’t paying for the phone bill so I reasoned I didn’t need one. Besides I checked in at work ... when I felt like it. Now, it’s nearly impossible to be that kind of pain in the tuckus with the boss.

But, my phone does have Caller ID so I can ignore the call from the boss. I can claim I didn’t hear the phone ring.

The boss hasn’t mentioned getting a “Miracle Ear” ... yet.  

I assessed just how much technology  and social-networking I have in my life keeping me connected to the outside world:

• Android phone

• Work computer

• Two laptops at home

• Work website

• Two work-related Facebook pages

• One personal Facebook page

• Digital camera

So far, I have avoided Twitter.

But, there’s also fun stuff like my I-Pod and Blu-Ray player. I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch of stuff.

This is quite a leap forward from the days when I started in this business. It was about 1973.

I had a job microfilming old newspapers at the Pekin Times. The machine I worked with was massive. It was leaps and bounds ahead of the other technology in use there at the time.

Reporters still used typewriters.

The composing room, where the pages were put together, still used hot lead.

I recall when the first computer arrived at the paper. It was housed in a special climate-controlled room.

Only two people had access to it and they had to wear special suits, akin to decontamination suits.

I was 27 when I first touched a computer at Illinois Central College. At the same time my 5-year-old son was using computers in kindergarten. That was exactly 25 years ago.

How the world has changed in just 25 short years.

Twenty-two years ago I started working for this company. We had computers, but not like today’s.

We had editors, photographers, clerk typists. We had camera operators, pressmen and layout artists.

There were a lot of people involved with getting a paper out.

Today, as editor, I write the stories, take my own photos and layout the pages. I manage the website. I make work-related posts on two Facebook pages. I also have e-mail to keep me in touch.

About the only thing that has not changed is my pen, pad and desire to keep doing this job.

One man or woman with the aid of this technology has made a lot of people’s jobs obsolete.

Are we better off? I wonder.

I just know it is harder and harder to get away from it all. And, yet, we do it to ourselves. I could have gotten a regular phone.

I’ll have to ponder whether I’m better off. When I come to a conclusion I’ll post it on one of my Facebook pages from Germantown Hills on my Droid.