RELINQUISHMENT, Step ONEOkay, if we’re going to get started on this relinquishment thing, somebody is going to have to suggest the first baby step. It’s all well and good for Bill Joy to suggest we immediately stop the infotech innovation that made him rich, but so far I haven’t heard any practical steps on a realistic timetable. So I’m going to make a suggestion to get the ball rolling backward.

This might seem like a weird one because cell phones have not been invented yet. They’re just marketing all the prototypes. Here’s a list of amenities an actual cell phone would have:

It won’t bleep out every 30th word.
It won’t hang up on you at its discretion.
It sounds at least as good as the walkie-talkie I used from my tree fort in 1975.
It includes the most information-rich part of a conversation: the breath between the words that cues the user’s intent to speak or listen.

I’m trying to prevent this futuristic device from being invented by convincing you to relinquish the primitive prototype in your pocket.


The first sign of singularity shock is when information technology changes so fast that the average human brain can no longer keep pace, causing intolerable cognitive dissonance and, eventually, madness. Slower brains are canaries in the coal mine, and I’m here to squawk.

Here are a few examples of intolerable cell-phone-induced cognitive dissonance:
Twice a month, I get a cell phone call from my buddy’s balls. I turn on my answering machine and listen to twenty minutes of his testicles rustling around in his pants while in the muffled distance I hear him talk baby talk with that psychette he told me he broke up with. Sometimes his nads catch me when I’m home. I listen live while I holler into the phone for him to take me off his damn speed dial. eventually he hears my tiny voice screaming from his scrotum and claims I’m not on his speed dial. But that would mean that during the hundreds of thousands of steps he takes each month, his baubles randomly type out my phone number and hit send every two weeks, like a ten-thousand-monkeys-on-typewriters kind of thing.

I should point out my friend wears saggy homeboy jeans — which I call incontinence pants — with his baseball cap on sideways, and an overlarge shirt with a giant number and somebody else’s name on it, an ensemble that sends a rebellious message of mental retardation. I’m not judgmental about this, except that his incontinence pants place his cell phone in proximity. I don’t know about you, but when jingleberries dial me up making sounds as if to demonstrate Newton’s Cradle in my ear, I’m way past the point of psychological overload. It’s time to turn back now.

Second example of cell-phone-induced Singularity Shock:
I was alone in the men’s room using the urinal. I heard somebody walk in behind me, step into a stall, and latch the door. He jingled his belt, sighed, and said:

“Hey, how are you doing?”
I looked around to double-check that we were definitely alone.
“Okay, I guess.”
“I just stepped into the men’s room.”
“Yeah, I figured.”
“So how’s it going?”
“Um … everything’s coming along fine.”
“Where are we getting dinner afterwards?”
“Look, guy, I’m straight.”
“Hang on a second, sweet pea. Hey out there! Leave me alone! You want me to call the cops right now?”
“Oh! No-no! sorry!
“No, it’s okay. Just some pervert. You were saying?”

The advent of the cell phone age has provoked an assault on our most cherished values, including the ancient taboo against discussing dinner plans while defecating. Next time you borrow somebody’s cell phone, remember your Handi Wipes.

Twice a month, I get a cell phone call from my buddy’s balls.

I hope this story inspires you to chuck the damn thing into the recycle bin and join Bill and I in our journey back to the seventies, where we embrace the following technology: A call-waiting enhancement that, instead of interrupting your conversation, sends an automatic message to the caller telling them you are busy right now and to please call back later. No interruption, it doesn’t charge the caller for the call, and the responsibility for making contact remains on the person trying to contact you. sound convenient? We had that in 1975. It was called the busy signal.

We don’t even need to go back that far. I’ll settle for any relinquishment back to the time before I received messages like this on my message machine:
“Joe it’s … blt … meet us at … o’clock … All the lobster and steak you can eat, pro bono strippers, plus … mrl … call her back at 51 … 3 … 28. Okay, I’ll expect you there!”

Relinquishment, Step Two:
Talking GPSs. Shut the hell up. I’m trying to figure out where I am. If I wanted my masculinity threatened by a voice telling me where to turn, I’d bring my wife.

Joe Quirk is the bestselling author of fiction and non-fiction. His new novel, EXULT, is the very first digital ebook published exclusively at Scribd by a mainstream author. You can buy it for two bucks.

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