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Saturday, August 1, 2009

More on "telephone reality"

Here is a few paragraphs from Chapter Two of my book. I think it is relevant to today's discussion of the dangers of "cell-phoning while driving."

Talking on the phone invites second chakra emotional connection. Who hasn’t spent hours whispering their deepest secrets to a best friend or lover? Of course long-distance intimacy brings its own vulnerabilities, such as being secretly recorded or reaching for the phone and spilling out one’s most personal thoughts after a few too many drinks! The human brain’s operational mode while “on the phone” is closer to dreaming than its everyday state of navigating the stimuli of the external world. In a recent test, lab volunteers experienced a significant reduction in their ability to process visual stimuli while talking on cellphones. Other studies have reported that talking on a cellphone increased the risk of having an accident four-fold.[i]

Today, more than one hundred years after Alexander Graham Bell made what was essentially the first “911” call, the second chakra’s drive for authentic connection still underlies this technology. Lovers everywhere talk the night away; social networks of all kinds are supported by cell phone “link-ups,” conference call "phone bridges" provide group therapy on the most intimate topics. Numerous support groups for those facing grief, addictions and life-threatening diseases, quietly thrive on phone conferencing systems provided by universities, hospitals and social service agencies. Somehow, at times of crisis, the anonymous intimacy of phones allows for deep connection, even among strangers. Telephone counseling has been shown to improve recovery rates for patients taking anti-depressant drugs.[iii] After exchanging (1st chakra) emails, most computer daters rely on the (2nd chakra) telephone to “energetically check out” their potential partners before agreeing to meeting in person.

[i] Virgin Mobile of Australia has a “Dialing Under the Influence” call-blocking program, that for 20-cents a number prevents you from calling the boss or girlfriend before 6AM. New York Times Magazine, December 11, 2005, 66. "We found a 50 percent reduction in the processing of visual information when you are driving and talking on a cellphone," reported David Strayer of the University of Utah. "Cellphones Called Worse than Alcohol on Road," Newsday News Service, reprinted in The Capital Times (Madison, WI), July 23, 2003, 1. See also, ScienceCentral ”Driving While Distracted,”

'Hands-free' car phones, often touted as safer, appeared to be slightly more dangerous than hand-held terminals The first research into the effects of car phones took place at the University of Toronto in 1997. Published in New England Journal of Medicine (, it compared accident reports to phone billing records. See, Andy Dornan, "There Is No Information Superhighway," Network Magazine, Mar 5, 2003; Jeremy Peters, “Hands-Free Cellphone Devices Don't Aid Road Safety, Study Concludes,” New York Times, July 12, 2005. Online version at

[iii] Heather Horst, “From Kinship to Link-Up: Cell Phones and Social networking in Jamaica,” Current Anthropology, December 2005, Vol. 46#5; 755. “New Therapy on Depression Finds Phone is Effective,” New York Times, August 25, 2004, A20.

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