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Just Sayin’: The scourge of the smartphone

A visitor texts before crossing the street in

A visitor texts before crossing the street in Waikiki, Hawaii, in October 2017. That year, the Honolulu Police Department started enforcing a law against looking at or texting on your cellphone while using a crosswalk. Credit: AFP/Getty Images / EUGENE TANNER

I am happy to be one of those Long Islanders who do not own a smartphone. So many people have their heads down looking at their phones: people driving cars, crossing the street, eating with friends — even people at church.

Go to a playground and you will likely see children playing with parents or grandparents. However, sometimes you will see an adult staring at a smartphone, ignoring a child.

Recently at a restaurant, I sat next to a mother and her daughter, about 8. Their meal lasted about 20 minutes. The mother said about 10 words to her child. The mother spent almost all of the time engrossed in her smartphone. The girl sadly looked at her mom. Her face seemed to say, “Why do you care more about your cellphone than me?”

I think future anthropologists might wonder why people in the 21st century were obsessed and addicted to their smartphones and had so little face-to-face interaction. They might conclude that the smartphone was a religious symbol that enabled people to pray to their gods. In many religions, we look up to our God, but not in this religion. A belief of the Church of the Smartphone is love of self and self-absorption — and, of course, the selfie is one of its sacraments.

I would rather interact with the real world and live in the moment than be oblivious to all things around me.

Brian Abrams, Babylon

Resolutions for the next 12 months

Here is my resolution for 2019, and I think it should be everybody’s resolution. Let’s stop watching or limit our watching of CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, take a breath and realize these networks are a source of our discord.

Let’s talk with each other, not yell and pump our fists. Let’s solve our problems instead of throwing them at each other. The 1960s song lyric “Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong” is correct. We need to communicate, not agitate.

Also, let’s really hold our leaders accountable. We pay them good money to work for our best interests and not theirs. Let’s use the ballot box to rid ourselves of lazy, unproductive representatives at all levels of government. We need to stop voting the party line; this is what they count on. Maybe then we will have true representation. Maybe then we can accomplish peace on Earth.

Happy New Year.

Bernie Bienwald, Centerport

The Senate subverts national democracy

Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute tweeted that by about 2040, 70 percent of Americans will live in 15 states. As a result, the 30 percent living in 35 states will choose 70 senators. For example, California has about 67 times the population of Wyoming. Yet each state elects two senators. This situation is absurd. It is time to end minority rule and abolish the Senate.

Equally absurd is the Electoral College. In 2000 and 2016, the loser of the popular vote was elected president. Again, minority rule. Why is the most important election in the world not decided by popular vote? Governors, members of Congress, mayors and others are elected by popular vote. End the Electoral College.

John Gimberlein, West Babylon

An unfair charge by the cable company

Moving recently, I called Optimum to disconnect my cable TV service. I was just seven days into a 31-day billing period. I anticipated a prorated final charge, as with other utilities. However, three representatives told me that Optimum does not prorate final charges. I would pay for 24 more days of TV service, even though I would not be living at my former residence.

One representative said that before 2016, Optimum did prorate final charges, but had changed its policy. I then found notice of it vaguely stated in a past bill.

This is a cautionary tale for other consumers. To charge for unused service is no way to treat valued customers.

Don Pfeifer, West Hempstead