The Unbearable Banishment: Another cell phone imbecile

Monday, October 31, 2011

Another cell phone imbecile

Cell phones are here to stay. I'm trying not to sound dramatic but I think that, for many people, giving up their cell phone would be akin to kicking heroin. They are permanently weaved into the fabric of society, so should I just accept them. [By the way, I think that the UK/Euro "mobile" phone is a far more apt term. We should adapt it here.]

But vent, I must.

On my way out of the city I stumbled across this imbecile. She's holding a conversation on one phone, while having a separate texting conversation on a second. Why do I let this stuff get under my skin? She's not bothering me. Proof positive that I am a curmudgeon. You can take the boy out of the city, etc.

I showed these pics to Mrs. Wife and she said, "What's the big deal? One phone is probably for business and the other is personal." And I get that. But I see this sort of gadget-overload with increasing frequency and it worries me. What are we turning into? Hasn't the promise of new technology always been to make our lives easier and set us free? Look at this poor thing! She's enslaved by technology. She'd probably have a public meltdown if both batteries died simultaneously.

I'm still not very good at meditation, even though I've been doing it for a few years. But occasionally, I catch a wave. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to empty all the noise out of your head and sit in perfect silence, do nothing and, best of all, think nothing. It's a peace you'll never experience while juggling cell phone conversations.

* * *

As long as I'm on an anti-technology kick...

This has been floating around in the ether for a while now. Have you seen it? It's a spoof of Facebook users and it's hysterical. Everyone is reduced to a nice, neat stereotype. Breeder Betsy. Alcoholic Alice. Perfect Pam. etc. Each funny comment is posted by "The Enabler."

The sad part, the part that resonates with me, is the true part. Let's face it; reading a book is a lot more work than going on Facebook. But just think of how rich our lives would be if we all put down our gadgets and read more.

Recently, on the way home from the city, I sat next to a guy who spent half the ride scrolling through Facebook and the other half playing games on his phone. He could be reading On The Road. And I'll bet he'd love it. But Facebook is easier. And after a hard day of counting beans and pushing buttons, who wants to work more?


Do I make fun of the girl above and mock people on Facebook because I'm jealous? I don't have a Facebook account. I don't need a website to constantly remind me of how few friends I have. I can count them on one hand and have a few fingers to spare. The girl above is sustaining two conversations. I, on the other hand, got my new phone in May and haven't bothered to set up my voicemail because I never get any calls. So maybe this is all just a case of simple, human envy.

Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between.


Blogger Cat said...

I often wonder who people are talking to all the time. There are not that many people I want to talk to.

October 31, 2011 at 8:01 AM  
Anonymous l said...

I can't stand mobile phones. Yes, I have one myself, but I hate they way they isolate people from each in actual social space (iPods do the same).

I don't like them for several other reasons, but the main one would have to be the way that they have normalised a kind of rudeness during conversation that would have been unacceptable before their advent. Certain people I know (most unfortunately) will suddenly break off an interesting conversation either to answer it, or, worse, start scrolling through Facebook mid-sentence, looking up at you in a distracted way. It makes me feel as though I'm not good enough entertainment, and that they're really looking for a better party elsewhere.

Hate them.

I closed my Facebook account a few months ago. For one thing, it's a black hole of time (as opposed to blogging - cough); for another, my social life works best if I compartmentalise my friends a little bit, and there were getting to be too many times where I thought "Shit, I didn't want my ex music teacher to read that!"

October 31, 2011 at 8:12 AM  
Anonymous looby said...

Sorry, that was me.

October 31, 2011 at 8:12 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Cat: During my commute I often catch snippets of conversation. All too often it's meaningless gossip.

looby: It sounds like you had an Epiphany. Wish it'd happen to more people. Once, I was talking to a friend and pulled my phone out to look at it. He was mid-sentence and stopped talking. He gave me a look I deserved. I haven't make that rude mistake since.

October 31, 2011 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger Here In Franklin said...

Oddly enough, I've read much more since I got my Kindle. Once my locally-owned bookstore shut down, I almost quit buying books. When it was open, I'd walk out with three or four books at a time--all recommended by the staff who knew me and what I liked. You just don't get that kind of service at the Barnes and Noble.

With the Kindle, I can read a review or hear about something from a friend and have it within seconds, at about a third of the cost. I've spent far more on books in the last year than in the previous three or four.

October 31, 2011 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Kono said...

I'd give up my mobile phone before i ever gave up the opiates that's for fucking sure...

and that moron trolling facefook probably wouldn't understand On The Road, i mean all that driving and talking and whatnot, why not just text or friend me man, that said the last five books i've read were the first two novels of Dos Passos USA trilogy, Just Kids by Patti Smith, Papa Hemingway by A.E. Hotchner, Last Words by Willam S. Burroughs... beats facefook hands down.

October 31, 2011 at 1:12 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

HIF: Kindle: The New Hope for literature. It just might work. I'll still miss bookstores when they're gone. And make no mistake; brick and mortar places are on their way out.

Kono: HEY! Have you been raiding my bookshelves at night! "Just Kids" was a great read. And Dos Passos is a pretty good ride, too. Don't let it slip away. It could happen if you let your guard down.

October 31, 2011 at 1:21 PM  
Blogger Eryl said...

I'm rather fond of Facebook, it allows me to interact with friends and relatives all over the world in a very informal way. It's almost as if we all live in the same village and I can pop round to see anyone of them, at anytime, for a quick chat. Recently a cousin of mine, who lives in Australia that I haven't seen for thirty years, has been sharing old family photos: I saw a snap of my mother aged 2 for the first time ever. Without Facebook I'd have had to go to Australia to see it and I can't afford to do that.

As for mobile phones: bleargh, I'm not much of a talker so I almost never use mine.

October 31, 2011 at 1:27 PM  
Anonymous daisyfae said...

i was annoyed yesterday at the dog park. a giant samoyed was performing anal rape on my 90 pound dog - while the owner was chatting away merrily on her phone. repeated attempts to dislodge both her dog from my dogs ass, and the phone from her ear eventually paid off, but i was starting to look for a big stick. for her.

facebook? it's what you make of it. i happen to be a fine cross between Alcoholic Alice and Perfect Patty. at least that's the angle i am trying for...

October 31, 2011 at 5:12 PM  
Blogger mapstew said...

Bored while sitting in the car today (waiting for the youngest to finish basketball training) I took a big step forward and deleted 3968 messages from my mobile! It actually felt lighter! :¬)

(Ha! WV = 'comifuns', that's what mobiles are called in Moscow!)

October 31, 2011 at 8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still read two books a week. Reading is my crack habit

November 1, 2011 at 5:45 AM  
Blogger JZ said...

The singularity is near, TUB....and you will be assimilated....

The history of mankind is the history of technological progress. There are peaks (i.e. the wheel....penicillin...30 Rock, etc. ) and their are valleys (i.e. gunpowder...heroin...TV dinners, etc). Some evolutions are the discovery of oil: great for the huge leaps in "modern" life from the late 19C. onward, but hell on the environment.

As an architect, I do not like seeing the social media and mobile devices isolate us further from ourselves....Civilization itself has its roots in public space and the coming together of individuals in cooperation.

But then again, what the hell do we all agree on these days and identify as "a little bit of ourselves" in others? In other words, what the hell would we talk about?? :-P

November 1, 2011 at 6:32 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Eryl: I don't doubt that Facebook is a useful tool. It wouldn't have achieved worldwide, societal-changing popularity if it weren't. I'm just sore I have no use for it.

daisy: I need a better cell phone jammer. One that works in all circumstances. The one I have only seem to work in confined spaces. My understanding is that they have jammers carried around in suitcases that can knock out city blocks. I need one of those.

November 1, 2011 at 6:44 AM  
Blogger JZ said...

oh! And if I may add one more thing....

Instagram for the iPhone is one of those "technologies" (is an App a technology?) that is quite compellingly worth spending a little bit of time with. Its a large creative commons of photography and there's some damn good art being shared on that tiny little screen. I'm inspired everyday by friends and strangers that post thoughtful musings on the world around them with nary a word, just the image.

Plus, I've now caught glimpses of places I would have never imagined, sometimes in my own little southern city! Let alone, Iceland, eastern Russia, Singapore, etc.

There's this guy taking some great B/W of uptown NYC...god, the textures are just gorgeous....

November 1, 2011 at 6:45 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

map: 4K messages! What a happy problem to have. I don't have four messages to delete.

nurse: Even at my peak I wasn't reading two a week! You have superhuman powers. I can't imagine not reading a book. And I don't mean a Kindle. I'll never go eBook. Do you have one?

JZ: My favorite sign of the Apocalypse is when I see two people sitting across a restaurant table from one another, each one texting. I always wonder if they're texting each other. I see it so frequently that it's not funny anymore.

November 1, 2011 at 6:50 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

JZ: Is that where secondWide disappeared to?! Not one pic since MAY! I miss them.

November 1, 2011 at 6:55 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

Don't text - don't really know how to. My treats are reading a book at bedtime and a crafty game of scrabble - or four when I should be doing other things. I think meditation is similar to my prayer time. If I forget to do it during the day and remember when I'm in bed its the best sedative ever.
PS I found an old article which told you how to use keyboard shortcuts and attempted to use italics in a comment with the result that this comment is giant sized. Help!

November 1, 2011 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Pat: Meditation is also a great sedative. There's a fine line between meditative bliss and being stone cold asleep. Each is equally satisfying.

To italicize in a comments section you need to add a couple of simple tags. Type < i > (start italics) before the first word you want italicized and < /i > (end italics) where you want italics to end. You have to type the tags WITHOUT THE SPACES INSIDE. I needed to do that, otherwise it would have italicized the text and you wouldn't have seen the tags.

Scroll down to my previous post and take a look at the interesting modeling shoot.

November 1, 2011 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger savannah said...

there were wedding pictures up on fb within 10mins of the ceremony ending and i still haven't downloaded pics from my camera. it all works, sugar and sometimes, it doesn't, but we still go on - one foot in front of the other. xoxoxox

(there was a tron disc toss after the bouquet toss, by the by. we're still on a wedding high around here!) ;) xoxoxo

November 1, 2011 at 10:24 PM  
Anonymous dinahmow said...

Well, I do now have an itty-bitty pre-paid phone (for The Man to call me if he needs a chauffeur)but I rarely use it.I think it takes pictures too.
And Facebook? Hate it, but it did just reconnect me with a very dear friend (note to Pat: thankyou for visiting her.)
But I will de-activate it once I've notified the so-called friends. I never hear from them so presume I've been unfriended!

November 2, 2011 at 3:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my phone has a torch and that's basically all it's good for

November 2, 2011 at 5:25 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Sav: Do you remember when you had to wait several days to see your photos? And you only had 36 shots on a roll so you had to make every one count. Now, the whole world can see them within seconds. Progress!

dinah: I actually have a Facebook page. I've only been in it the one time to open the account. Haven't been back since. No plans to revisit.

Anon: That's an expensive torch! You can find a torch that doesn't have a monthly plan.

November 2, 2011 at 6:44 AM  
Anonymous dinahmow said...

"snippets of overheard conversation"
Loooong time ago, a friend and I wrote a short sketch based entirely on bits of conversations we'd overheard. Way before mobile phones.
Maybe someone should do this again?
A couple of years ago, waiting for a cross light, I heard, on my left: "you'll never guess who's pregnant?" and on my right:
"He is. I'm telling you, babe, it's f'real!"

You see...a goldmine for someone with the right wit.

November 5, 2011 at 11:14 PM  
Anonymous Samantha Cole said...

Mobile phones and modern social devices do tend to get in the way of "real life" interaction. But there are just some people who get attached TO THE GADGET, and not just use it for what it is. It's a thin line, but a whole world of difference.

December 8, 2011 at 8:43 AM  
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