When I started my new column “Rice Advice,” I knew I’d hear some heartbreaking stories. But I wasn’t prepared for the depth of pain this young woman is feeling. 

Dear John:

I am a 24 year-old single woman and my best friend is my smart phone. It connects me to the world, this huge and crazy world. It makes me feel powerful, popular, and most of all, not alone. Like most of my friends, I am not able to leave the house without my precious Tango. Yes, my cell phone has a name, just like my human friends, so please don’t laugh, you would hurt his feelings. Tango provides me with all I require, and I require a lot. I need my music, to avoid the loud city noises; I need the newspaper, but I don’t want to carry around an inconvenient piece of paper; and I need to entertain myself with stupid games, instead of reading a book and cultivating myself. 

Am I so different from other young people? I guess not. We all need the same things, because we are accustomed to them. Media taught us how to be addicted to cell phones, how to use them, and overuse them. Do I feel less alone with my cell phone? I’m not – but it gives me the illusion that I’m surrounded by a crowd of people. When I’m actually much more alone, looking down at my cell phone, instead of looking at real people, and talking to them. 

I wish I could stop being like those addicted teenagers, and start enjoying the “real reality”? I think I am missing many great and simple things. I just need to realize it so I can change. 

When people see me obsessed with my cell phone, I wish they would just talk to me. Maybe I would realize what I was missing. Maybe I’d look up, for only a few seconds, and enjoy a simple thing – like conversation. I know my cell phone will someday run out of batteries. But the world will never run out of the little pleasures that make it so special.   Is there a group to help cell phone addicts like me?  

Slave to the Screen 

Dear Slave:

I’m not aware of any 12-step programs for phone addicts and I don’t see the need for you to join one. It sounds like you have a very healthy relationship with your phone. Why would you want to interact with people, when you have the world at your fingertips?  Besides, according to an article in “Psychological Science,” making eye contact is no longer an effective way to communicate. University studies showed that, “Trying to maintain eye contact can backfire.” It’s considered too intimidating in today’s society and can actually make your listener less-receptive to your ideas. So, please continue to enjoy your phone’s company. And, if you marry someday, think of how romantic it will be for you and your spouse to dine out with your phones. Give my best to Tango and, if you do decide to look up at a companion someday, the study recommends you keep your gaze at mouth level. 


John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.