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People say conversation is a lost art; how often I have wished it were.
~ Edward R. Murrow
Breakfast: Cereal and
"Eyes of a Child"
WE WILL ALWAYS BE CONNECTED TO EACH OTHER, DAMMIT
31 March 2004
We lived on one of the steeper hills in San Francisco when I was growing up. I remember in my earlier childhood that there was a man who used to dance up the hill, talking to imaginary people. People said he was crazy. Someone said hed been shell shocked in the war (that would be WWII--Im very old...)
When I worked for a typing service in Davis, we had a local teacher, who was mentally ill as the result of some accident hed had. He used to stand in front of the office and have long discussions with imaginary friends, some of them from outer space.
Walk through halls of convalescent hospitals and you are sure to find more than one person sitting in a chair, or walking through a hall having a conversation with someone who is not there. They, too, are probably mentally ill.
When we were in Chicago this weekend, we sat on a bus behind a woman, sitting alone, who talked and gesticulated throughout the entire ride.
She had no mental problems. She had a hands free cell phone.
You cant tell about people any more. When you see someone coming down the street, talking and gesticulating, most likely they are talking on a cell phone.
Call me an old fuddy duddy, but do we really need to be on the phone all the time? I've written about this before but every now and then it really hits me again.
What in Gods name did we do before cell phones? How did people survive without instant contact with everyone?
It is amazing to me how many people grab their cell phones and are making their first calls before the door is opened after a plane lands. Theyve just endured an entire flight without a cell phone. Perhaps the world ended in those 2, 3, 4 hours.
Ever since Dick Tracy talked into his two-way wrist radio and Kirk flipped open his communicator to call the Enterprise from whatever planet he was visiting, it was inevitable that what was once the stuff of science fiction would eventually become reality.
But at what price?
We are closer to people at a distance, farther from people in front of us.
It amazes me, sometimes, to go into a restaurant and look around at how many tables have groups of people where at least one, if not more, are talking on cell phones. Presumably these are people who have decided to have lunch together, but they are only physically present, their real attentions focused on whoever it is on the other end of the cell phone. I once sat through half of dinner while my companion kept up a lively conversation with someone else on the cell phone. I felt like an eavesdropper, but there was nothing else to do but sit there and listen in on some personal stuff unless I got up, left the table, and let my dinner get cold until the conversation was finished.
I see people walking through museums or scenic attractions, ignoring the things to be seen, concentrating on their phone conversations.
I also never realized how much men use the telephone. I was raised by a man who would rather walk through fire than have to talk on the phone. Comics do bits about women and the telephone. But from my admittedly unscientific observation, men outnumber women when it comes to use of cell phones--and most of them seem to be chit chatting, not discussing items of great import.
Today I saw a girl riding her bike and talking on the phone. If she only realized how easy it is to fall off your bike and injure yourself!
When we were in Chicago and took a cab from the theatre to the hotel, the cab driver talked on his cell phone the whole way. I dont know about you, but if Im in the car with someone who is driving the speed limit and weaving in and out between cars, Id really prefer that he have his mind on the drive, and not on his conversation.
Now I know there are places in the world where it's easier to get a cell connection than a real phone. I also realize that there are people who need to keep a cell phone for business reasons. I have a cell phone myself. Most of the time it sits in the living room, plugged in to keep the charge active. If I remember, I take it with me when Im driving alone or when we are going to be somewhere and I know I need to contact someone (I took it to Chicago, for example, so I could call Ellen and make arrangements for meeting...given how much the hotel phone cost, I was glad to have it with me!)
But for casual conversations, is it really necessary to talk on the phone while standing in line at the bank, waiting for a movie to start, or while your groceries are being rung up?
I know cell phones are here to stay. They do have their legitimate place and their legitimate use, but as I watch the proliferation of cell phones exploding around me, when I realize that there is NO place I can go without encountering half a dozen people talking on their cell phones, I long for the old days when I kept enough money for a pay phone in my purse and when I wanted to talk to someone I waited until it was convenient to do so.
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