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You Don't Have To Sell Your Cell....

Updated on April 9, 2011

....Just Use It With Discretion, and Turn It Off When You Turn On The Ignition

My husband and I were leaving the mall after a fine morning of shopping for bargains at Target, when we were almost sideswiped by a van that couldn't manage to stay in its own lane to make the turn into the parking lot. "Of course!" my husband observed. "She was too busy talking on her phone." I looked over at the van and observed that the driver, phone plastered to her ear, indeed was engrossed in what I'm sure was a totally necessary conversation. None of my business? Oh yes it is, particularly when it affects my safety, or, for that matter, the safety of anyone else.

Talking or texting on a cell while driving a vehicle is dangerous. Period. It's not a matter of freedom of speech or freedom of choice, nor is it anyone's "right" to check up on the kid's little league schedule or the spouse's dinner preference. In fact, in some municipalities texting or talking on a hand-held cell phone is actually illegal, not that too many of those municipalities have followed through on enforcing that particular law beyond offering assorted "warnings." Why is that? Perhaps because those who have refused to buy into the "constant-cell-phone-use-is-essential-to-your-health-and-well-being" school of thought are considered uninformed, out-of-date, and a tad anti-social.

How many times have you witnessed situations like this? A man or woman strolls through each aisle of the grocery store consulting his/her spouse via cell phone as to his dinner preferences. (Some seem to be consulting on an entire week of menus.) What has happened to the average person's independent decision-making ability? The supermarket scenaio is surpassed only by the shopper who casually browses her way through T.J. Maxx while carrying on a thrilling conversation on her cell for all shoppers in the vicinity to hear: "Yo, Hi, I'm at T.J. Maxx." Pause. "No, no, that's Marshall's. This is on the other side of town." Pause. "What? Oh, wait, these pajamas are sooooooo cute." Pause. "What"s your size?" Pause. "No, only elephants and penguins. Sorry." Pause. "He got out of jail?! You've got to be kidding." Pause. "That's true." Ad infinitum.

Gone are the days when the primary intent when entering a store of any kind was to shop. I still go to stores to shop, and I don't appreciate being distracted from my mission by the mundane details of strangers' lives being broadcast via one-sided conversations. Don't get me wrong. I'm fine with someone answering a ringing phone with something like, "Hi, Honey. I'm glad school was good today. I'll be home in about an hour. We'll talk about it then." End of conversation. Kids checking in with parents is a valid reason for cell phone use (not while driving, though).

The next time you're dining out, look around and count how many diners are using their cell phones. If you're sitting next to one of them while they're conversing loudly on the cell, it's particularly disconcerting, especially if you're trying to have a friendly discussion with your dinner (or lunch, or breakfast) partner. Just the other evening, as my husband and I were ushered to a table at local restaurant, I noticed a young couple, both of whom were busy texting. In other words, rather than have a discussion with one another while waiting for their food, they both chose to communicate with people who were elsewhere. A few tables over, there was a woman who actually was shoveling food into her mouth with one hand and keeping a firm grip on her cell phone with the other. I had to hand it to her. After all, it is quite an accomplishment to be able to talk and eat at the same time.

Not too long ago, I noticed a child of about three or four at a nearby table texting away, or so I thought until I realized that he was playing one of the many game apps that are available. (It looks like the days of creating art work on place mats are numbered.) At least that child was quiet, unlike the many adults who insist on carrying on cell phone conversations in public places. Look at it this way: would you even consider inviting people to your home for dinner and then spend most of the dinner hour on the phone conversing with somebody else? Exactly when did it become socially acceptable to invade someone else's space by chatting loudly into a portable phone? Quite a few times I have even heard the voices of women behind closed bathroom stalls carrying on a conversation when their efforts should have been concentrated elsewhere, if you know what I mean.

I've heard many people lament the loss of the original "social network," whereby one actually had to socialize in order to network. When did it become imperative to be able to text or twitter one's "friends" (all 1,000 of them, in some cases) at any hour of the day and night? Why, in fact, must "tweet" apply to anything other than the sound made by a bird? I realize that these are rhetorical questions that, sadly, are answered daily by an increasing number of people by the mere act of unstoppable twitter. It seems that "meaningful dialogue" has been replaced with whatever thoughts rush through one's head during the course of a day. Exhausting!  

I do have a cell phone, believe it or not.  So far, though, it's been used in my personal space(s) for personal and business conversations, not as a magic elixir for an ongoing connection to all of humanity.  Wait....have to put you on hold.... my husband's on the line wanting to know whether he should wear the brown socks or the blue ones.  Guess I'll call my daughter and ask what she thinks. CU!


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