Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Rant: People, PLEASE Untether Yourselves - Free Yourselves From the Tyranny of the PHONE!

Most especially the idea that you have to be connected to anyone and everyone every minute of the day and night or life as you know it will cease to exist!

Somehow civilization survived for thousands of years without the constant touchy-feely need to chat in perpetuity with someone you might not have spoken to in, say, the last 20 minutes.

Walking down the street these days is an obstacle course since most everyone on said street is busy talking and revealing their most intimate details to everyone around them, willing or unwilling to listen. The rest of the world appears not to exist for those on a cell - it's as if they're hypnotized -  they believe they are in their own protected universe. (I once heard a doctor discussing details of a patient's case while standing on a street corner in full hearing of innocent civilians.)

If you cannot leave your car in the supermarket parking lot and walk the few yards to the entrance to the store without calling someone to advise them of your situation, then for goodness' sake, think about getting some counselling. I hate to break this to you, but you are simply NOT that interesting! Your day to day, moment to moment adventures in living are NOT so intriguing that they must be shared as they happen to all and sundry, including me standing behind you, next to you, in front of you, or anywhere in the vicinity of you.

Let me tell you something else that I hope won't come as a surprise, although it might: Unless you are the President of the United States and his guardians, or even The Secretary General of the United Nations, or perhaps Uhura on a secret mission, there is NO real reason for you to be walking down the street talking on a phone. None. Zip. Zero. Nada.

If you're doing it because it makes you feel important - which I have a feeling is the main cause for all this street, parking lot, standing on line at the movies chatter - then please be aware that you could not be more wrong. You are not viewed as being important because you're spilling your guts on the phone in full view of the world.

Maybe this was the case in the very beginning when only the Secret Service (or people of that ilk) had cell phones, but NO MORE.  No one's going to mistake you for Someone Important because you're chattering away on a phone while tripping over the curb or falling down a manhole or crashing your car or running over some poor pedestrian or bumping into a wall or forgetting to pay attention to your screeching child. I think you can trust me on this.

Last but not least - what is it with these little phone attachments that fit over the ear and leave your hands free to - well, to do whatever it is you do with your hands while walking, driving or otherwise going about your business. It's bad enough to see people meandering like zombies down the street  or crossing an avenue as cars careen around them, while talking (usually loudly) on a thing held up to their ear but now, more and more, we have the spectacle of people walking down the street seemingly talking loudly to themselves - having whole conversations standing alone with hands in pockets - eyes glazed, in complete ignorance of those around them.

Used to be, those sorts of people were thought to be the less mentally fortunate among us. But no more, now it's seen as perfectly normal behavior. Pretty soon it will be impossible to tell the loony-toons from the rest of us.

It is especially startling when viewed in context. For instance, if you're standing in an empty store (well, empty except for the salespeople) and you're seen to be carrying on a whole conversation staring fixedly into space. Especially odd if your hair is hiding the little phone contraption strapped to your ear. Or the same thing could apply while you're shopping, driving, riding on a bus or train or simply having a coffee at an outdoor cafe.

I recently saw a car full of people heading somewhere and several passengers in the backseat had these gadgets attached to their ears. I'll bet anything they talk to each other by phone rather than in live conversation. Today as I was sitting near a window, I heard a voice, looked out and sure enough there went a teenage boy either having hallucinations or talking on one of those ear things. Very unsettling.

Is there no privacy anymore? Obviously not. I might even go so far as to say that 'privacy' is now viewed as a quaint, archaic notion. I mean, if you have nothing to hide, why not scatter your words, thoughts, allusions, illusions, opinions and unfunny jokes to the four winds?

Hey, that's what blogs are for. If you want the world to know your words, thoughts, allusions, illusions, opinions and unfunny jokes then for heaven's sake - GET A BLOG! It's much less intrusive and your neighbors will thank you. Really.

P.S. My daughter says I'm old and that this sort of thing is the future which is now. Pretty soon we won't remember what it was like to live without a constant phone appendage. I grimace when I hear this. It so reminds me of COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT - a movie which ends with a know-it-all computer taking over the world and telling the chief scientist (in fact, the guy who built the damn thing) "Soon you will grow to love me."  Or words to that effect. The scientist, played effectively by Eric Braeden says, "Never."

That's how I feel.


  1. Hello Yvette:
    Now we really think that.....oh, forgive us, the mobile is ringing!!

  2. Oh how I agree with all your comments.

  3. Great rant. Very well said. I think driving while on the phone should have the same penalty as drunk driving. The problem is no matter how many laws you think up, there's no way to outlaw idiots.

  4. Sue: I'm glad we're in agreement even if my rant is a little overwrought. :)

  5. Jacqueline: Thanks! I agree about the penalty - for sure. But as Nero Wolfe says, 'You can't put sense inside a fool.' (I paraphrase.)

    Too bad.

  6. AMEN! Another reason that I'm glad I met you. I have this rant at least twice a year. And have had it for the past seven years or so when cell phoen usage got ridiculously out of hand. I didn't even own a cell phone until about four years ago when I was practically forced into getting it or my partner was going to abandon me. I hate them that much. And now that they're mini computers they are the scourge of modern civilization. I trace cell phone addiction to the end of courtesy as we used to know it and the inability for anyone to find solace in being alone. Evil cell phones! Curse you and the people who invensted you and all those who have modifeid you since! Grr. (shaking fist defiantly and somewhat uselessly in the air)

  7. OH! There is this great story about a guy who works in Chicago who whenever he is in an elevator and someone is talking loudly on a cell phone breaks out singing a show tune at the top of his voice. One time whatever song he chose was so familiar that the other people in the elvator joined in until the damn woman gave up on her phone talk. Hysterical!

  8. Yes, John, I definitely share your outrage. It is the end of courtesy, absolutely for sure.

    Soon there will be people who do not have any idea what basic, common sense courtesy is. They might study it in history books, but that's it.

    Those little mini computers that do everything but wipe your butt, are a scourge. You said it, John!

    I'm shaking my fist with you, my friend.

    I like that elevator story. Would that I had the courage. HA!

  9. I'm with you, Yvette. The cretins who insist on SCREAMING INTO THEIR CELL PHONES on my train are moving me closer to a legal definition of "justifiable homicide" with each new platitude they shriek. I carry one, but I use it remarkably little - and, when I do, I try to find someplace where I'm not sharing my business with the immediate world.

  10. Completely agree with every one of your sentiments. Recently my husband and I were having a lovely walk on a beautiful cliff-top with a view over the Atlantic like you would not believe (it was Cornwall). Peaceful and beautiful. Then along comes this chap with his mobile phone yelling down it like his life was in danger. I wanted to grab it and throw it into the sea!! Grrrr!

    Funnily enough there was an article on the BBC News tonight about how people are now addicted to their smart-phones and even take them to the bathroom! They showed this family eating a meal but not talking to each other - no - they were texting! I think the word has officially gone crazy.

  11. Les: Justifiable is right. :) The time is coming when we'll have to stuff cotton in our ears when we leave the house. Ha!

    Or wear those noise-dimming ear muff looking things.

  12. Cath: Oh, how awful. What a spoilsport. I don't know how you controlled yourself. :)

    It seems to me he was more interested in his phone crap than in the gorgeous view. I think in the future, people will look at the world through the prism of their 'smart' phones instead of with their own eyes. Ugh.

  13. I have all that techy stuff that I *think* I'm suppose to have but I never use it! I can't remember the last time I even took my smart phone out of my purse. Talk about being stuck between two generations!

  14. Hear, hear, Yvette! My sentiments exactly!

    What really bothers me is mothers talking on their cell phones while ignoring their children. It also bothers me that parents pay large cell phone bills and cable bills but won't provide their children with school supplies or books. Where are their priorities?

  15. I HATE cell phones. I got rid of mine over 2 years ago and I've never been happier. I have yet to hear a conversation in public that is neccessary. I think I hold cell phones in as much contempt as I do karaoke.

    Thank you, Yevette!

  16. BookBelle: I'll bet all the youngsters out there are rolling their eyes. Ha!

    Caught is right. :)

  17. Pat: Jeez, I hate when I see that. I want to go over and snatch the phone from the woman's hands and tell her a thing or two. Luckily, I control myself. Pay attention to your kids, for goodness' sake.

  18. You're welcome, kiddo. I'm so impressed, Ryan. And you a young man too. Good for you.

  19. Hi, Yvette - I couldn't agree more. In fact, I'm one of the few people left on the planet who doesn't own a cell phone. Just leave a message on the land line and I'll get back to you ...

  20. Yvette, you're a gal after my own heart! Although I do keep a cell phone on me in case of genuine emergencies on account of being available for my kid (I'm talking life or death emergencies here), I won't drive and talk at the same time; I usually let my cell's answering function catch the call, and I'll check it later to see if it's really an emergency. And it drives me nuts if someone puts me on hold or even tries to have two conversations at once even though I started talking with them first! (Then they get annoyed when I politely say, "I see you're busy. We'll get in touch some other time."!)

  21. Yvette: great post!
    The plague of cell phone addiction drives me bonkers, too, but I try to look on the bright side: Now I *know* they're morons.
    (And thanks for the comments at Ivanlandia!)

  22. Yvette,

    Loved your rant. I agree with you completely.

    My only disagreement was someone's comment that politeness and civility disappeared with the mobile phone. Civility and politeness disappeared decades before the advent of the mobile phone. That is why so many users are rude--they don't know any better. They are rude all the time and being rude with the phone is normal.

    My favorite example: I was in a restaurant, seated near a woman with three young girls--I'm assuming this was a mother and her daughters. She was talking to someone on her phone, the pre-teen and 8? 9? year-old were texting away and the 4? 5? year old had a toy mobile phone to play with (at least I assume it was a toy). I wonder when was the last time any of them spoke to each other to any extent, beyond "it's time to go" and "pass the salt please"

  23. Oh, I have a great story I could tell about what I did to a woman talking (in detail) about her hot date to her girlfriend (and all the rest of us standing unwillingly in her airspace), but it would take too long. Maybe a blog post... hmm....

    You should see the facial expressions when someone asks me for my cell phone number and I tell them, "Wouldn't do you any good to have it. My cell phone's only on when I want to make a call... and that's not often." I basically got the cheapest phone I could on a pay-as-you-go plan so I could use it if the car broke down and left me stranded. Otherwise, I abhor the things!

  24. I don't and won't own a cell phone.

    The only reason we have the home phone is to order pizza!

  25. Mark: I'm the second member of that club. :)

    I admit if I did a lot of traveling, I'd probably have one. But I don't, so I don't.

  26. Dorian: For you it's a necessity, of course. I can see where your need is different - you must be available. But I'm glad you don't drive and use the phone at the same time. :)

    I can't tell you how many drivers I've seen chatting away on the phone while negotiating difficult turns or overtaking another car or just zipping down the street. It's an epidemic.

  27. Ivan: You're more than welcome, I enjoyed your movie post. :)

    Thanks for dropping by. I hope you took a look at my I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE post for Nate's Blogathon!

    Cellphones and blackberries are a scourge!

  28. Fred: Yes, you do make a good point. Perhaps it's cause and effect in operation when we see the rudeness of people with their phones in public.

    That restaurant scene is becoming all too common, I fear. Sad.

  29. Cathy: Good for you. Once you give out the cell phone number, it's all over. If you're out and about a lot, then keeping one for road emergencies makes sense.

    And wow, would we love to hear that story. How about a post? Maybe the woman will read it and learn a valuable lesson. You think? HA!

  30. Caftan Woman: You're the third member of the club. And to think I thought I was the only one who didn't have one.

    I feel comforted. :)

  31. I have to say I love my iPhone! Of course, we don't have a house phone, so it's the only one I've got. I would like to mention, though, that my husband and I don't use them at meals (which I think is unforgivably rude) or while driving (which I think is unforgivably dangerous). I think people my age use them to combat boredom--the way people used to take a book to the dentist's office or to a restaurant if they were eating by themselves. However, I don't know why they can't entertain themselves silently!

  32. Lauren: I said the 'youngsters' would be rolling their eyes. :)

    As long as you use the force for good, it shall be with you.

  33. On the ward I work on ,I see young nurses sitting in the lounge diddling with their little screens during meals. No one talks to anyone else. Or-I could be wrong. They may be texting the person sitting next to them .

  34. betsy: They probably are. It's an epidemic. :)

    Pretty soon everyone will exist in their own isolation reaching out only through mechanical devices.

  35. I have a cell phone which I hardly bring with me when I leave the house. I only use it when my land line isn't working, which happens frequently for reasons I won't go into. And then I'm using the cell phone to call the darn phone company and be put on hold for 20 minutes in voice mail before I get a person.

    I can't standing sitting in waiting rooms and hearing people's personal business. I have told people after their calls that the roomful of people heard their "private" calls. This seems to shock them.

    I think the cell phones and all that marks a sad development, that people don't have enough real connections and communications and satisfying relationships. So they have to connect via gadget all of the time.

    I understand parents checking in with their children via cell phone, or vice-versa. A lot of people need to use cell phones when out in the field for their jobs to call in. Or people need to make or change plans quickly, like doctors' appointments or dinners, or get the children picked up, etc. Those things I get.

    But the nonstop compulsive callers I don't get. And the sharing with the world I don't get.

    Bah, humbug, I'm going back to my Luddite existence, with a landline phone, and a computer. That's enough.

  36. Kathy: Exactly. "It's that saring with the world I don't get."

    Me too.

    Bah, humbug! Indeed. :)


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