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zackphone (1)

We all know his brick-phone, but we may have forgotten his guidance to put down our phones and connect.

By David Ryan Polgar

Everything I needed to know in life, I learned from my years at Bayside. I learned about integrity from Principal Belding. I learned about the dangers of drugs from Jessie Spano. And everyone’s favorite nerd, Screech, taught me the dangers of acting like Dustin Diamond as an adult.

It was Zack Morris, though, that taught me about tech etiquette. Alongside being the big man on campus and getting into all types of high school high jinks, he was able to offer some sage advice about being present in the moment.

While he is well known for his brick-sized cell phone, we may have forgotten his commentary about proper phone use. Long before popular YouTube videos like I Forgot My Phone and Look Up examined how we are often glued to our devices instead of connecting with those around us, Zack Morris tackled the issue.

Check out the episode Rent-a-Pop (Season 3, ep 7, 20 minutes in; available on Netflix), which features Zack’s rascal of a dad, Derek. Derek Morris is obsessed with his phone, so much so that he is oblivious to Zack’s life and has become an absentee father. When Zack needs his father’s permission to go on a ski trip, Zack decides it would be easier to hire an actor to play his father. When his real father, Derek, catches wind of the duplicity, the ski trip is off.

This leads to a face-off between father and son, where Zack Morris lays the smack down on his dad’s poor tech etiquette.

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Derek: “The ski trip is off. Why couldn’t you just be straight with me? Why couldn’t you just tell me you were having trouble in school?

Zack: “Dad, I tried to tell you. You’re not that easy to talk to.”

Derek: “You used to tell me everything. What happened to us?”

PHONE RINGS

Zack: “That’s what happened to us.” [Derek talks on phone]

“See, that’s the problem. You’re always on that stupid phone.”

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Derek: “It’s just business. It’s important.”

Zack: “Is it more important than your family?”

[PHONE RINGS / Derek is on the phone talking. Zack walks to the corner of the room and covertly makes a call to his dad. His dad, not available to his son but always for a call, picks up the phone.]

Derek: “Derek Morris.”

Zack: “Dad.”

Derek: “Zack?”

Zack: “Is this the only way I can get through to you now?”

[Conversation; dawns on Derek that he’s been kind of a prick.]

Derek: “Son….son, when was the last time we sat down and had a long talk?”

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Zack and his dad have a conversation about baseball. The phone rings again. Derek, trying now to be a better father, tells the person on the phone that he is taking his son fishing.

I have no idea if Derek kept his promise to take Zack fishing after the canned applause died down and the episode ended. But one thing is clear: if you are looking to connect, put down your damn phone and talk to the person next to you. Take it from Zack Morris.

“See, that’s the problem. You’re always on that stupid phone.” -Zack Morris

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