I read a story recently that suggested many people who have cell phones up to their ears are not actually using the phones — they are just trying to look important.

Now I, like many, have a cell phone. And on occasion I have faked it to get out of a never-ending conversation — one of those conversations where you ask someone how they are doing but you really didn’t want to know all the details that link to an appendectomy when they were 12 years old.

In these instances, I think the cell phone is a viable safety valve — saving time and sanity. It’s justifiable to conjure up some perception in those instances.

But I have never walked around with my phone stuck up to my ear to look important. I’ve just never thought of receiving a phone call as a measure of importance. I think we are all important to someone.

Of course when people get new gadgets, I think there is something chromosomal that makes them want to show them off. When laptop computers first came on the scene, people in public had a sudden urge to whip them out and look up the latitude and longitude of Timbuktu or the atomic weight of molybdenum — or maybe even how to spell it.

I was on a flight once to Phoenix, Ariz. The plane was packed and people were cranky. I was sitting by the window so I could watch the starboard wing and engine for the pilot. There was a guy in the middle and a guy on the aisle. We were all about the same size — as wide as we were tall.

The guy in the middle had to get out his laptop, open it up and proceed to check out what appeared to be a “to do” list. When I get on an airplane, there are only a few things for me to do — watch out for terrorists, listen for unusual noises and go to the bathroom. Generally I do them in that order with the urgency for the last one depending on the outcome of the first two.

I was not impressed. It was a long flight and I was cramped.

Now we have things like “blackberries” and “text messaging” and music downloads. Even those little candy hearts for Valentines Day have techno lingo on them now with phrases like “text me,” “page me,” “be my blog.” Or maybe that was “be my blob.” Sometimes those little things are hard to read. We may not be able to do short division, but we are gizmo literate.

And have you noticed that we’ve almost come full circle on cell phone music downloads? A cell phone playing music is not that great a difference than a transistor radio of yesteryear. Well, maybe you do have a greater selection of tunes at your command, but in the analysis of a time-space continuum there’s not a lot of difference except with the cell phone you can make unnecessary calls, take unnecessary calls and respond promptly to what were not emergencies before they were invented.

The other night, I watched a fellow let his steak get cold while he talked on a cell phone in a restaurant. I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation because I was eavesdropping. And it didn’t sound like someone on the other end needed instructions to diffuse a bomb or to deliver a baby.

But like I said, get a new gadget and it’s an inherent demand from the species to show it off.

When I’m on my old John Deere tractor, I cannot hear my cell phone ringing. And I cannot feel it vibrating. I like it that way. The squirrels already know I’m important because I’m growing pecans for them. And emergencies can sometimes be handled by other people. Not to mention that we have voice mail on these same devices.

I’m not saying cell phones don’t have lots of practical application. When I go jogging, I take mine with me in case I run out of spit and vinegar. I can call my wife and ask her to come get me.

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