Thursday, July 12, 2012

Silence, Please!

Do we have so much more to say to each other in the digital age, or is the digital age tricking us into thinking that we do?

Did we talk to each other as much as we appear to do nowadays, before there were cell phones to blab into?

If we did, then our every spare moment must have been spent in conversation.

I'm sorry, but I don't remember that. So I suspect something else.

Who is everyone talking to on their mobile phones? And what are they talking about?

And, most importantly, why is there so much to say in the freaking car?

I would have thought that, by now---well over 20 years since people began acquiring mobile phones---the novelty of yakking into a phone while driving would have worn off.

Apparently not.

Chances are that the next time you see an ill-advised move on the road by a fellow driver, or tardiness in responding to a green light, the offender has a cell phone pressed against his or her ear.

And it's happening a lot---seemingly even more than just a few years ago.

My question is a simple one, really: What is everyone talking about? And why can't it wait?

OK, so I guess that's two questions---not that the blabbermouths are counting; they're too distracted by blabbermouthing.

I think cell phones are a wonderful invention. They truly save lives and provide communication where there normally wouldn't be any---and usually that's a good thing. But not always.

What is there to say to someone when you're driving? I mean, that can't wait until you arrive at your destination?

I sometimes speak into a phone while driving but the conversations are so brief as to be harmless.

"I'm on my way!"

"I'm almost there!"

And that's only because we have an epileptic dog who sometimes gets too excited when his family comes home. Hence the telephoned warnings.

I speak into one at the grocery store sometimes.

"What did you say I should get, again?"

Stuff like that.

I don't carry on private conversations in public that last much longer than the time it takes to read this sentence.

Sadly, I seem to be in the minority in my humility in that regard.



People don't seem to care what you hear anymore---no matter how private.

I remember having a dinner at a Chinese restaurant several years ago with my wife and daughter. It was a quiet, intimate place. And seated in the booth behind us was this blowhard.

For 15-20 minutes, he rambled on into his phone, so much so that you'd have thought there was someone seated across from him---except that we heard it as a one-way conversation.

His conversation---I don't remember the details but it was loud and had NOTHING to do with us---literally ruined our meal, because he was the only thing we could hear. It was impossible to ignore him.

I just don't know why people are on their mobile phones so much in public. Again, I thought we were beyond that as a status symbol and a novelty.

It's not that I don't care what you have to say when it has nothing to do with me. It's that YOU don't care that I don't care. And that you don't have the shame and humility to realize what you're sharing in public.

And it's a great distraction while operating a motor vehicle---these montonous, digital age conversations.

What's so important?

Can't you put your phone down for a minute and tell me?

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