Mobile Phones are Not Your Friend - and Why
These things are not your friend
Would someone, anyone, please tell me one good thing that has come from cell phones?
Like teenagers need one more distraction when they are learning to drive?
Like we need one more source of noise at a crowded airport?
Like hearing the opening strains of Fur Elise adds anything to the climatic moment of the latest movie?
And would somebody please tell that one person on the bus who is talking on their phone all the way into the city that they are not the only person on the bus who owns a cellular telephonic device? Do they ever stop to wonder why they are the only rider talking on the phone?
When you talk on one of these things you instinctively project your voice beyond the normal volume used in a one to one conversation with a person sitting next to you. You are like the guy who is doing a presentation to a roomful of people, who steps away from the microphone and yells to the back of the room, "Can you folks back there hear me?" When they nod "yes" he procedes to give his presentation without the aid of the microphone like this gesture increases his testosterone level or some such. He speaks in his normal voice and nobody beyond the first six rows hears a word. Except when you talk on a cell phone you do project your voice to the back row whether you intend to or not. And everybody in range gets to hear your conversation. Like we care who scored the most points in the men's league game last night or what your sister said to her mother in law over lunch today.
But my favorite, the all-star cell phone user in my book is the one who uses her blue tooth in the grocery store. You look up from trying to decide which Ranch dressing is made in a way most likely to taste like homemade because it seems like the woman on the other side of the aisle is asking you a question. Turns out, she has no idea you or anyone else for that matter is in the store. She's just paying attention to her conversation with the voice in her ear and could care less that she is directing her speaking voice to everyone within the ten-foot perimeter from where she is standing. Only she isn't just standing. She is on a trajectory through the crowded store that will insure she distracts at least one person every three feet - people who are just trying to get their shopping done, who have no real interest in her literal broadband commentary.
I have a theory about why there is this small percentage of the population who are ruining the convenience of cell phone use for the rest of us. A group that will eventually lead to yet more entrusive legislation imposed on what should be our personal lives after much time and energy has been wasted on the issue. That small percentage is made up of the same members of our society who would smoke on elevators if we let them; they would use bad language at children's sporting events if there were not officials to throw them out; they run red lights when they are in a hurry or go around school buses with the stop sign out. It's not so much that they are evil people. They just only consider themselves in any given situation. When it is pointed out to them that other people inhabit the earth with them, they acknowledge the truth of this fact and promise to try and remember. Usually they don't.
So has anything good come from the advent of the cell phone? After all this rambling, my answer is: yes. One good thing. How many times a day, after overhearing the unsolicited conversations of perfect strangers, do you hear these words: "I love you. Bye." ? I must hear them more times than I can track. I love you. Bye. A man speaking to his wife (we hope); a woman speaking to her child; a teenager speaking to his first girlfriend ever; a middle aged woman speaking to a friend she's known since childhood. I love you. Bye.
That's not a bad thing. I can't name a situation in the pre-cell phone era that comes anywhere close to this spread of positive emotion through society. "Have a good day." "Peace." "What's your sign?" - Nothing comes close. "I love you. Bye."
How can anything that allows us to hear people say something that sweet, that initimate, that direct to each other many, many times a day really be all that bad? Still irritating maybe - but not bad, not really.
I love you. Bye.