Tech addicts, get help!

Spencer Farris, The Levison Group

"My name is Spencer Farris, and I am a tech addict."

I am addicted to gadgets. A high tech redneck. When asked if I am a nerd or a geek, my answer, stolen from my youngest son, is that I prefer geek to nerd. Or dork. Or loser.

I regularly pay a beta tax; the fee, both in time and money, that early adopters of new technology get charged to own the latest device and find flaws that the manufacturer didn't. The past couple of weeks have been a wake up call of sorts. Although there isn't a twelve-step program for tech addicts, there should be.

There are many things lawyers can't control. Our schedule is the most obvious - trials get continued so often that my trial calendar is kept in pencil. Even little things like hearings and depositions move around like a baby on a changing table. I have learned to take these things in stride and even gotten used to explaining them to clients who (rightly) think it is insane.

I can't control the outcome of trials either, nor can I predict with any certainty what a judge will do when ruling on a motion. I can't control the facts in a case. I can't even control my clients that disregard my advice. Because lawyers tend to be control freaks, it is counter intuitive that most things in our lives are beyond our control. One of the hardest realizations of the practice of law is that things don't always go the way we want them to or even think they will.

Technology is something that I can make bend to my will. The first law firm that hired me did so more because I could build and program computers - a big deal in the 1990s - than for my legal acumen.

Two weeks ago, I succumbed to lust and bought a new Samsung Note 7. It was sleek and powerful. I held more computing power in my hand than NASA had when the first man walked on the moon. I unlocked the phone from the carrier who had sold me cell service for 8 years and went to another carrier. Happy as a clam, I outfitted the new Precious with all the best accessories.

Then it happened. The recall. Samsung decided that a phone which could literally explode in your hands was a bad thing. Instead of getting spin doctors to sell the extreme heat as a feature (portable bacon cooker anyone?) instead of a liability, Samsung decided to exchange the phones for nonexplosive ones.

"Sissies," I said. I am not afraid of a little heat. In fact, most Note 7 owners did what I did, which was absolutely nothing. Then Samsung upped the ante. They changed the software in the phone so it wouldn't charge fully.

My Smeagle tendencies were challenged. I now had to put the Precious on a charger instead of keeping it in my hands 24/7. First I twitched. Then I couldn't even move.

I took the phone back to the store of my old carrier and begged for forgiveness and an exchange. Like most jilted lovers, they told me no.

Fine. I will just go to my new carrier. That relationship was too new for them to care about my happiness.

"How can you bill me for service if I am holding an unintentional IED in my hand?"

"You don't have to have an actual phone for us to bill you."

I called Samsung. Funny thing about calling a company based in Korea for customer service - their customer service reps don't speak American. After four calls, the problem got "escalated." Escalated, in technology terms, means that you are now someone else's problem. Please hold.

While I didn't want to be one of those lawyers who threatens a lawsuit to get his way, I also didn't want my ear to get incinerated during a call. Finally, I got through to Steve from Cleveland. I don't think he was really in Cleveland, nor do I believe that his name was Steve. When I asked him what the weather was like in Cleveland, he got very quiet.

It didn't matter. Steve did some clicking, and I got a new phone. If I ever get to Cleveland, I am taking him flowers. Hours on the hold and hours of setting up the new Precious are all forgotten. Or at least, forgiven. All that matters is that I can once again check my email and Facebook. And call my mom.

I would like to say that I am a changed man now, Gentle Reader and that I am over my lust for new technology. And I would say that, but I just learned of a device that will keep me entertained for hours and won't blow up or even get hot. I don't know if this thing, called a "book" will catch on or not, but I am going to try one. The Precious says there are places nearby to buy them after all.


©2016 under analysis llc. under analysis is a nationally syndicated column. Spencer Farris is the founding partner of The S.E. Farris Law Firm in St Louis, Missouri. He uses his phone as a nightlight to read books sometimes. Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent c/o this newspaper or directly to Under Analysis via email at

Published: Fri, Sep 30, 2016