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The horns of a new cellphone dilemma

Each time I consider dipping a little piggy into the shark-infested waters of cellphone ownership, an otherworldly omen appears (usually accompanied by the theme from “Jaws”) to scare me once more off that beach.

I mean, really ... “skull horns”????

According to a pair of Australian researchers currently enjoying their 15 minutes of infamy, consistent use of cellphones has led to the evolutionary development of bones growths at the base of the skull — predominantly in test subjects between the ages of 18 and 30 ... whose first question upon receiving the diagnosis was predictable and to the point:

“Can I get that pierced?”

Also predictably, there was an immediate backlash against the research — as doctors, scientists and cellphone company executives unattached to the study pooh-poohed the findings, saying the X-rays purporting to show “skull horns” were simply calcium deposits or born spurs and therefore actually could be beneficial to the patients’ health by keeping them out of military service.

Whether or not the “skull horn” report is full of pooh-pooh, such a development would not be the first physical ailment associated with cellphone use.

According to a follow-up story in USAToday — which was “The Nation’s Newspaper” back in the days where we lived in one nation — phone addicts have been afflicted with Carpal Tunnel, Tech Neck, Texter’s Thumb and Phantom Vibration Syndrome.

Duhn-duhn ... duhn-duhn ... duhn-duhn ...

Wait, what, I hear you say. You’ve heard the “skull horn” story because you came across it on your phone, tablet, computer, television and the tin can strung across to my neighbor’s kitchen ... but Phantom Vibration Syndrome?

Yes, indeedy ... although PVS is more of a psychosomatic illness. A study of undergraduates at George Tech found that 90% of them experienced the sensation that their phone was vibrating, despite there being no call, tweet or text at all.

Being undergraduates, of course, they simply could be expecting a call back from that potential significant other they met (but whose name they can’t quite remember) over the weekend ... but researchers insist that what’s happening is our brains are being rewired to expect communications that will never come.

Again, like that call from Leslie ... or Lita ... or Louise.

“People who are constantly picking up their phone look like they have an obsession,” an indecisive psychologist said about the study on National Public Radio (which is radio programming for people who still believe we have one nation). “I’m not saying that it is an obsession, but I’m saying that it could turn into one, very easily.”

Maybe, doc? Possibly? On a good day? Send us a sign?

Duhn-duhn ... duhn-duhn ... duhn-duhn ...

It’s also conceivable (although this went unmentioned in USA or NPR), that these instances of PVS could be the result of mistakenly activating the phone’s electric razor app.

The app projects an image of an electric razor onto the phone’s screen and lets loose the associated buzzing sound — thereby alerting all those nearby that you have no life ... and, possibly, no facial hair.

This brings me to yet another reason to leave that little piggy dangling ... the incredible amount of time you can waste playing with your cellphone, and how much money app designers have made at what even the psychologist interviewed by NPR would say was an obsession.

For instance, in the pursuit of wasting time, the inap@work app allows your phone to simulate the sounds heard at your desk if you were actually working. If these could be personalized, mine would combine potato chips being crunched, F-bombs being dropped, “If I Only Had A Brain” being hummed ... and sporadic typing.

Duhn-duhn ... duhn-duhn ... duhn-duhn ...

There’s an app that tell you where your friends phones are (which would be a priority for people who don’t realize that YOU HAVE A PHONE IN YOUR HAND AND CAN CALL THEM), and even one to find out where your own phone is ... although, if you don’t know where your phone is, you’d have to find it first so you can use it to track down your ...

... oh.

(I’m told that I could use the app on my “smart watch” to locate my phone. If only I hadn’t gone watchless since 1978.)

My favorite app, though, is the Hold On app, which ... wait, hold on, that’s not true at all. My favorite app is the Mail Tribune app. For a second there, I was getting a Phantom Vibration Syndrome on my landline.

My, ahem, second favorite app is the Hold On app — which asks you to press down on a button and see how long you can wait (or, in the case of 90 percent of undergrads at Georgia Tech, how long they can be kept in suspense) until you develop a sever case of Texter’s Thumb.

Those of us who’ve left the 18 to 30 years far behind refer to this as Remote Control Paralysis — with its side effects of Recliner Butt and Telly Belly.

I think this little piggy is going back into its shoe — which has been basically its only use since the invention of footwear led to the dwindling need for toes to do much more than collect sock lint.

Even if I am too old to grow skull horns, I’m still not young enough to own a cellphone.

Mail Tribune copy desk chief Robert Galvin can be reached at 541-555-rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com.

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