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Ron Cruger
The Spectator
founded 2004 by ron cruger
A place for intelligent writers
A place for intelligent readers
On growing older - not dying!
Our overwhelming news glut
What happened to our heroes?
Wise up, America
The Starbucks 7 on the Presidency
A special birthday: Heading for 100
Bye Bye Big Bank
The Infatuation
Republican, Democrat or what?
The image of America
Mitt versus Barack, who wins?
The smart phone and joy
The do-nothing candidates
        My father used to tell me about the arrival of radio on the scene. He would describe what a miraculous invention it was. At night whole families would gather around the radio receiver and listen to music, news and their favorite entertainers like Jack Benny, Fred Allen and Eddie Cantor. Kids and adults would listen to radio dramas with intense interest. Night after night millions would listen to Suspense, the Lone Ranger, Captain Midnight, Lux Radio Theatre and Amos and Andy.
          From the 1920s to the 1950s radio captured the attention of America. Movie theaters would halt showing their feature films and play live the half hour radio program of Amos and Andy. Radio was king. Advertising dollars flocked to the new medium.
          The question of the day was how unhealthy can it be for Americans to listen to so much radio?
          Then, in the 50s television came along and stole much of radio’s audience. All America swooned at the idea of watching pictures with sound right in their living rooms. Movies, comedians, news, cooking shows and wrestling brightened up America’s homes. Children and adults spent more hours watching television than they did listening to radio.
          From the 50s through the 1990s Americans sat in front of their television sets and watched a growing variety of programs. Millions of advertising dollars left radio and scrambled for television time. The advent of cable brought untold scores of new programs on the television screens. Bigger and better television receivers made sitting in front of the family television set an even more charming attraction. The new question of the day was how unhealthy can it be for Americans to spend so much time watching television?
          Along came the turn of the century and with it the astounding growing popularity of the portable, cellular telephone. Sales of cell phones exploded around the world. Telephone booths that dotted the landscape disappeared. The air was filled with telephone calls zipping from one end of the world to the other. Seems that everyone had a cell phone. The world had a new toy. The amount of telephone calls rose to untold billions. Everyone was making cell phone calls whether they had to or not.
          Then along came Steve Jobs and the miracle of miracles: the smart phone.
          Here was a device that you could hold in your hand and get the best of radio, the best of television, the best of a computer and the best of the telephone.
          Whatever kind of communication a person needed the smart phone could provide it. With the advent of the smart phone the world has changed beyond the permutations brought about by radio and television.
          A walk through a mall, a downtown, a neighborhood – anyplace, and you’ll see the same scene multiplied by ten million, maybe fifty million. Someone holding a rectangular object in their left hand, their right hand index finger sliding over the face of the rectangle. Eyes glued on the object. An absent stare. Oblivious to the environment. Suddenly a small grin, then a large smile. An incoming phone call is arriving on the cell phone. The person holding the cell phone’s dopamine count has risen due to the joy of receiving a telephone call. The rise in dopamine count is due to the happiness in receiving that telephone call. A newly founded sensation has entered our register of emotions: the joy of receiving a telephone call or a text message.
          The joyous emotion brought on by the reception of a phone call or text message has become the subject of more than one psychiatrist’s research. One thing is for sure - the rise of dopamine in a person’s brain is due to the reception of something joyous.
          The next subject for the world’s psychiatrists is to find out why that hormonal count rises as it does when a text or phone message is received. It’s only a telephone call, but the reaction in the brain is that of something that brings great happiness and self esteem to the receiver.
          Three weeks ago I went to a local hospital to visit a family member who was to undergo minor surgery. I got to the hospital in time to be with the family member before he was wheeled into the surgery area. Walking towards the patient I saw that everything was as it should be. A nurse standing alongside the bed. Tubes feeding into his arm, a clean white sheet covering his body to the chin. And there, resting on the chest of the patient, was his – smart phone.
          There was a time when people facing surgery kept a copy of the Bible with them. Others a letter from a lover. Others a necklace or a scented handkerchief. Now the object of importance and sentiment is a smart phone.
           These are the people who walk with their attention focused on the rectangle in their left hand. Their right hand is sliding across the rectangle’s face. Their concentration is on the device. All else has become second in significance.
          The smart phone, one of mankind’s greatest inventions, has quickly worked its way into the pantheon of importance to billions around the world.
          I’ve never had my dopamine level checked, but I doubt if it rises when I receive a text message or a phone call. Maybe I’m missing something.