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From the Publisher's Desk – I need at least five bars a day (Sept. 23, 2015 issue)

Last Friday was the day my life was turned upside down. I had often thought of what the crisis would be like, but it was far worse than I imagined. Yes, I am talking about Verizon failing me and the other local customers.
The day started out as any normal one, but soon it would come crumbling down. Luckily the day before I didn’t have any idea of what was ahead or I would have truly struggled dismissing it from my mind and being able to sleep.
Of course, I am somewhat exaggerating this panic attack, but it did show me how much I reach for and depend on my cell phone. There it was staring up at me on my desk.
From time to time I would hear the familiar chime of a text message coming through. Was it just my imagination? No, Verizon was sketchy all day, with random spurts of one to two bars. I’m not talking about alcoholic establishments, although that did cross my mind due to the dilemma I was in. But, those of you with cell phones, know the number of bars represents the strength of your signal and my signal was weak as was my patience.
By the time I would hear that familiar “ding” I would grab for the phone, swipe the screen, punch in my password code and check to see what it was. Before I could reply and send back, the service was once again gone. This happened all day long.
I’m not the only Verizon customer in the office. Several were facing near panic feelings from the withdrawals of cell addiction. Believe me, it was a stressful environment at The Erwin Record.
I later did some research and found the phobia truly exists and is called nomophobia. The first recovery center has been established in southern California. Nomophobia is the term created by British researchers in 2008 to identify people who experience anxiety when they have no access to mobile technology.
A study shows that 70 percent of women, compared to 61 percent of men, worry about losing their cell phone. However, men are more likely than women to have two phones, 47 percent to 36 percent. Not surprisingly, the younger age groups have higher numbers of people that would feel distress of being without their mobile phone. In the 18-24 age group, 77 percent revealed nomophobia. In the 25-34 group, that number drops marginally to 68 percent. What may come as a surprise is that the third-most nomophobic group was the age-55 and over group. And, there I found myself leading that group.
For those of you out there who feel like you could possibly be addicted, here is the list I found to make that analyzation. • You’ve spent more on your accessories than you have on your phone. • You have 30 different apps installed and use them all. • You have alarms telling you when to do everything in your life. • You read about your phone on your phone. • You’ve cut back on necessities to afford your $100 cell phone bill. • Full battery charge barely last the day. • You broke it and it feels like you lost your best friend. • When you meet someone with the same phone, you can only talk about the phone. • You feel a brief moment of panic when you touch your pocket or grope to the bottom of your purse and it’s gone. • You use it in the bathroom. I think I can admit to a few of these.
My cell phone is my lifeline while not at work. It allows me to check my emails, delete the junk mail and respond to the ones needing it. I also like to play games while waiting for a car service or other type of appointment.
It is usually easy to tell those who are driving and texting or talking. I watch them drive slowly in the fast lane, while their minds are off somewhere else and not on the road. I see them swerve from side to side and even run off the edge slightly before quickly yanking the wheel back the other direction.
But Friday, we had more than one stress element to deal with. We were also having some work done on the Internet service in the office This problem lasted into the afternoon. That, too, brought us in and out of service. We were being attacked on all levels. Life as we knew it was shutting down. Was this the end of time?
I am the type of person who always thinks it would be fun for the electricity to go off and experience what it used to be like years ago. After 15 minutes of that, I am bored and ready for it to be over. Out of habit, I still enter a room and turn the light switch on. If it lasts long I do this numerous times, forgetting the last failed attempt.
It amazes me how dependent we are on so many luxuries. It seems our world falls apart when they are taken away. All the countries that are a threat to the U.S. would have us at their mercies if they cut off our Internet and cell phone services. Where did I put that old rotary dial phone? I may have given up on it too soon.