Cellphone craziness a hang up

Jul. 13, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

I’m sort of a cellphone newbie. 

I didn’t get my first cellphone until I was in my mid-40s.

Most teenagers, including my niece and nephews, find this fact rather shocking.

Not me. I had no desire to own one until my boss said I had to have one for work. That’s right, I was forced to buy a cellphone.

Even my mother owned a cellphone before I did. Did it bother me? Not in the least. I was never one to be a part of the “it” crowd in school nor did I care. I’ve always viewed cellphones as a distraction. 

Having been a reporter and editor for 20 years, I liked to talk to my subjects in person. Scheduling a phone interview was out of the question. One couldn’t see their facial expressions and comment on them in the story. I’m just not a chatty phone person. I just like socializing in-person rather than by email, facebook, or twitter. I can survive a day without modern technology.  

I think the day of a socially-stunted society has arrived. Every where you look, there is a cellphone.

While I was standing in line at the grocery checkout the other evening and I heard this woman talking behind me. So, naturally I turned toward her. “Hi Sherry, I’m in line at the grocery store. What are you doing? I bought some cube steaks and potatoes. What’s new with you, I haven’t seen you in awhile.”

She was a nice young woman, maybe 25 years of age, and nicely dressed. When I turned towards her she looked at me and kept on talking. There as an ear-bud speaker in her right ear. She was holding her cellphone in her left hand, clutching it like a lifesaver flotation device. I really didn’t want to eavesdrop on her conversation, in fact I objected to her chatter invading my space.

When I looked at her again, her eyes looked right through me - I wasn’t there. She was so involved in her conversation that nothing else really mattered.

“Yeah, yeah, we should get together, it’s been soooo long. I just thought I’d call you. How did your son do in school? Hold on, I almost dropped the steaks. Do you still live in the same place?” I give this lady credit, she was multi-tasking. 

Behind her were a couple of young teenagers with cellphones glued to their ears. Each had that deer in the headlights look - which came from concentrating on their phones.

Having had enough of the irritating noise pollution, I checked out and headed toward my car in the parking lot. However, the madness of being attached at the hip with your cellphone continued. I watched as two young women and a teenage boy head for their cars ahead of me. All three found their cars and unloaded their shopping carts (I guess you call them buggies in the south). After the task was completed, each one immediately reached for their cellphones and were talking as they drove, one-handed and distracted from the parking area onto the busy street.

Leaving the grocery store to go to another store, I noticed the same scene again. I watched for five minutes and saw at least a dozen people load their vehicles, draw out their cellphones and quickly thumb-dialed a number. Just as in the grocery store scenario, the driver exited parking lot gabbing on the phone.

Driving home I saw more evidence of society’s growing cellphone craze. As I turned on my street, I check my rear view mirror and saw a huge old Chevy Suburban, a mammoth vehicle of old times, being driven by a small figure behind the wheel. She was steering the huge vehicle with her right hand, which also held a lit cigarette. In her left hand, jammed to her ear was cellphone and her lips seemed to be moving as fast as the speed limit on a major highway.

Too bad Emily Post didn’t write a book on etiquette for cellphone users. It could have been used as a training manual for all cellphone users, who would have to pass a test on social graces of cellphones before being allowed to purchase one. Though, I highly doubt it would have made a best seller list in today’s world.

Most of us can remember days of peace and quiet when a cellphone didn’t invade our personal space and the good times of social interaction. How did we live life without a cellphone?

 

Wanda Moeller is the Publisher of The Daily Courier. She can be reached at wmoeller@thedigitalcourier.com.