Friday, June 3, 2011
AT THE SIDEBAR (Column)
Death by Cell Phone?
By JíAMY PACHECO
Like many people, Iíve been tempted to cancel my landline telephone service. Everyone in my immediate family now has a cellular phone, and if weíre not communicating by e-mail, weíre texting one another. I thought the landline was heading the way of the 8-track player, the dot-matrix printer and the polyester leisure suit.
Iíve been rethinking that, however, since I read that a group of scientists associated with the World Health Organization classified cell phone radiation as a possible cause for some brain tumors.
When I bought my first cell phone, I didnít have a death wish. Rather, I had a premature baby, and wanted my babysitter to be able to reach me at any time if there was trouble.
Over the years, the phone has been both a blessing and a pain. It was a good thing to have when my car battery froze to death on a cold, winter night in a grocery store parking lot. Itís been an annoying thing when people leave voice mails saying things like, ďWhatís the point of having a cell phone if youíre not going to answer it?Ē
Now it looks like itís a potential weapon of mass destruction. Forget the terrorists; itís likely our addiction to cellular phones thatís going to take us all down.
I remember when the worst thing that could happen to you while using a cell phone was the dreaded ďBlackberry Thumb.Ē That became the carpal tunnel syndrome of the cell phone generation.
Then we learned about the dangers of driving while distracted. Sadly, we learned about this when people started offing themselves and others by holding conversations so absorbing they lost their ability to focus on the road ahead of them which is, in California, rarely the one less traveled.
As if that wasnít scary enough, we learned that people were texting themselves to death. This came to my attention when Oprah did a special show on the dangers of texting while driving. I discovered there was a whole world of texters driving like around like modern kamikaze.
And now, we have to worry about those little devices filling our heads with cancer.
I donít talk on my cellular phone very often. I live in a hilly region with the planetís second-worst cellular phone reception, making cell phone conversations pointless.
(I donít actually know what region has the worst cellular phone reception, but I figure there has to be at least one spot on the planet where itís worse than mine. How bad is it? I have to go upstairs and stand by a window just to download a book onto my Kindle.)
Anyway, since I donít use the cell phone much for conversation, Iím probably safe from brain cancer. I do, however, text a great deal, and Iím wondering if that increases my risk of getting hand cancer. For someone who makes a living typing words, that could be a serious thing.
Of course, the concept of impending death is nothing new. Letís face itóweíre all walking around with an expiration date stamped in some secret place.
Humans have been dying sinceÖwell, the dawn of humanity. If the saber-tooth tigers didnít eat you, a woolly mammoth might step on you. You could freeze to death in the Ice Age, or contract the plague. Thereís no shortage of methods for a human to die Ė earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, fire, famine, or over-exposure to television shows about the Kardashians.
However, I donít think any of us foresaw the cellular phone as a potential threat to our continued existence. But if 31 scientists say itís so, I think we should listen and give some thought to how we use those handy little devices.
Consider this, for example: if you use your cell phone to call someone to tell them about the scientistís findings, you could be engaging in murder-suicide. Thatís something to think about.
I gave my teenaged daughter a cell phone for safety reasons. Itís ironic to think that she might end up with brain cancer just from calling to let me know sheís safe.
If I knew how to create such things, Iíd develop an app that would measure a cell phone userís radiation levels along with their monthly minutes.
Iíd probably make a fortune. The question is, after all my years of cell phone use, would I live to spend it?
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company