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Dear Annie: Harkening back to less hardware

Dear Annie: I am the proud owner of a flip cellphone, and I probably wouldn’t have it if public telephones still existed. I use about 100 minutes a month and have sent, in my lifetime, no more than 300 text messages, most of them one or two words in response to a text sent to me. I use no data. I still use physical maps to navigate car trips.

However, I use a computer at my job for most of the day, so it’s not like I’m a Luddite.

But I say all this because I notice an increasing separation between myself and much of the rest of society, even my wife to some extent, regarding phone use. My wife has a smartphone and is on it frequently. I wouldn’t say she’s on it too much, at least compared to a lot of other smartphone users. She has hobbies besides her phone, but I’ve noticed that the phone eats up more of her time than consumer technologies did years ago.

I notice, too, when I go to parks with my kids or take them to swimming lessons or soccer practice that many parents sit there looking at their phones. And I just shake my head, shocked at how quickly everything has changed in a mere 10 years or so.

I’m in my early 40s but feel like I’m in my 70s, wishing for the “good old days.” I’m not so much angry as I am saddened.

Am I alone in feeling this detachment from our device-centric world? I’m curious if any of your readers are troubled by these trends? — Doesn’t Compute

Dear Doesn’t Compute: Thank you for your letter. You raise a very important conversation. On the one hand, technology is absolutely amazing and has helped our society in so many ways. But it can also be dangerous when used too much. Social connections, face to face, are the healthiest form of connections. Being able to really see another person is a gift that we can all give to each other.

That gift is often lost because of texting or other forms of social media. I think you might be onto something that people are increasingly wishing for the good ol’ days when we were not bombarded with a constant blue light glow. That they make glasses that block the hazardous blue lights of our phones and devices shows that this problem is becoming increasingly widespread.

On the one hand, screens have reduced boredom; there’s always something to see, read or watch. On the other hand, they have taken away boredom, which can become a space where creativity and imagination glorious. This is especially true with children. You sound wise beyond your years. I commend you for bringing back the flip phone.

Dear Annie: In a neighborhood where there are no sidewalks, streets are narrow and many drivers speed, is it OK for leashed dogs to walk on the edges of lawns if the dog walker is diligent about picking up solid waste? — Doing My Best

Dear Doing My Best: My initial response is “yes,” but it might depend on what are the local laws of your neighborhood. If there are such restrictions, you could take your dogs to a public park and walk them there.

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