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Nina in New York: Your Cell Phone Is (Maybe) Going To Kill You

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Our Nina Pajak on her Blackberry, before making the switch. (credit: Marta Zielinska, CBSNewYork.com)

Our Nina Pajak on her Blackberry, before making the switch. (credit: Marta Zielinska, CBSNewYork.com)

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A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.
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By Nina Pajak

I don’t want to say it. Nobody ever wants to say it. Let’s all take a deep breath and just rip the band-aid off together:

Mom, you were right.

Maybe.

Okay, so the World Health Organization (WHO) now thinks that it’s entirely possible that cellular phones can give you cancer. Maybe! After some research and some more research, WHO decided to categorize cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic,” which doesn’t sound so scary until you see that it ranks alongside DDT and engine exhaust, two substances which people have been pretty serious about not inhaling/ingesting for some time now. That makes the danger feel a bit more real, doesn’t it? Unless, of course, you are staunchly on the side of “cell phones won’t give you cancer, will everyone please calm down!” in which case bring on the DDT and let this be the summer of the great bed bug massacre!

Excuse me. As I was saying. My mother has been predicting my cell phone-shaped brain tumor for years now and her pleas for me to use a headset only get louder and louder. I have always resisted and dismissed her concerns as being alarmist and born out of a profound mistrust of technology. Plus, earpieces look dumb. Plus, I am young and still cling to the remaining scraps of a distorted sense of my own immortality. Also, Mo-ooom, shut uuu-uuup. But now the WHO has armed her and all of her fellow concerned mothers with phone-addicted children with enough evidence to send us all down a nagging spiral that ends in a dopey bluetooth device. I am already feeling sullen and defeated.

More From Nina: Me And My Crackberry

The part of this finding that really got to me was the comparison of a cell phone to a microwave oven. Perhaps this has been said before, but if so I was even younger then and my perceived invincibility was at its greatest height, so it wouldn’t have affected me anyway. ANYWAY. According to a CBS News report, our phones emit radio frequency just like a microwave does. And again, the jury is out on how damaging microwaves are to our health, but I would not exactly get into the habit of pressing my face against mine while I’m nuking something for dinner. Come to think of it, the mere use of the word “nuke” in this context is now making me feel all headachey.

Like many people, I haven’t had a land line since 2004. And to be honest, I’ve always missed it a little bit (along with my dear, departed VCR). It made me feel anchored, and losing it somehow felt like I was suddenly untethered, floating about the world without a centralized location to receive communiqués. But it’s never made much financial sense to have an extra phone and an extra bill, and to argue for keeping it was really just an argument for nostalgia’s sake. Now perhaps I need to rethink this freewheeling way of life. It does make me kind of happy to think of having an answering machine again. Lots of possibilities for funny outgoing messages. And there were so many cool phones on the market back when it was cool to have a phone. I always wanted the one that was clear so you could see all the wires. Or the lips! The lips were where it was at. So it’s settled then. Lips phones for everyone. Moms, you can all give it a rest now. You win. You knew you would.

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Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

The Nina Archives:

People Are The Worst

If You Have To Ask…Don’t

Blame It On The Rain

What A Week!

This Place Is A Zoo

Things Can’t Be All Bad

Where’s Oda Mae Brown When You Need Her?

Never Was I More Disturbed To Say ‘I (Sorta) Told You So.’

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