The Unbearable Banishment: Are you receiving me?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Are you receiving me?

Here's an unhealthy trend. I'm hoping it's just a New York City thing and not widespread. People are together, but not really.

In bars, restaurants and coffee joints, people arrive in pairs but soon lose themselves in their electronic devices. Apparently, the person they arrived with isn't as interesting as whoever, or whatever, is on the other end of that tether.

I've been watching this closely and it's not just a matter of checking email and then getting back to the company at hand. People spend extended periods of time on their smartphone, completely disconnected from human contact.

I hit a triple with this one. Four European tourists in a Starbucks in Manhattan; three of them pouring over their e-communications. Can you imagine coming to New York City and spending anytime at all sitting in Starbucks texting? That's not a unique experience. You might as well vacation in Fargo, North Dakota for all it matters.

Although I'm sure the mobile phone manufacturers and network carriers are delighted, I find it alarming. It kind of saddens me. I'm going to try and insure that The Daughters are mindful of this and encourage them to rise above it. Perhaps this is the answer: sharing your obsession.

* * *

After Facebook goes public, it's estimated that it'll be worth upwards of $75 billion. That's billion. Pretty impressive for a company that doesn't manufacture anything.

They have something far more valuable than anything coming out of Detroit or shipped over from China. More useful than what our friends at Apple gave us. Do you know what they have to sell?

Personal data.

Lots of folks will pay dearly for personal data. Corporations. Governments. When Facebook shareholders start demanding greater profits to justify that $75 billion price tag, they'll dip into that resource and sell it to the highest bidder. Don't like that idea? Good luck getting all your personal stuff expunged from Facebook. I keep telling 10-Year Old Daughter, once you put it out there, you'll never get it back.

Mrs. Wife's friend recently posted the fact that her husband won $1,000 on a Super Bowl bet. Why would you put something like that out in public? I hope the IRS isn't trolling for tax cheats. Don't laugh. They might be.


Blogger Ms Scarlet said...

Well.... I have to fit in reading your blog somehow...
But yes, it is a bit sad.

February 7, 2012 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Pearl said...

I've noticed this as well, people sitting in their hand-made/hand-operated silos.

And FB? I don't post anything personal there and are amazed at those who do. Lambs to the slaughter...


February 7, 2012 at 11:42 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Scarlet: Well, obviously, that's allowed. There are always exceptions to the rule and you nailed it.

Pearl: I don't mean to sound like I'm above it all. If I'm not careful I catch myself doing it too. I'm just as addicted as everyone else is. Sadly.

February 7, 2012 at 12:03 PM  
Anonymous dinahmow said...

Receiving you loud and clear, Sir!

Another sector that might be reeling in some goodies? Pick-pockets. Next time you wander up 42nd just notice how casual people are about their bags and coats.
Of course, certain writers with devious thoughts might also mine this for fodder.(wink, wink)

February 7, 2012 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger savannah said...

we have a rule about mobiles, etc. not at the table, not when you're in public, UNLESS it's urgent and you step outside or away from whomever you're with. most of the time, mine is in my purse on silent or vibrate! the MITM has gotten to the point that when he's home, his mobile is OFF! leave a message or call the landline, if you have that number. . .

re facebook, i'm torn. i had said, if they went public i was gone, but like a junkie, i can't walk away. xoxoxo

February 7, 2012 at 2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate talking on the phone and my mobile is one of those old fashioned ones with no apps or extras.

but if someone I'm with whips out their phone and starts doing stuff with it then I'm gonna unleash my kindle and read in front of them until they regain their manners ;-)

February 7, 2012 at 3:55 PM  
Blogger sukipoet said...

You know back when i was young and used to "date" i got offended when my date was looking around the restaurant at other women instead of paying attention to me, his date.

Much less pulling out a phone etc and talking away to someone not present. which might have meant I would walk out.

no wonder i am single.

and also do not own any of these devices except a cell phone which mostly doesnt work up here in the boonies.

February 7, 2012 at 4:06 PM  
Blogger Here In Franklin said...

I have one friend that I have to practically arm wrestle to get her to put up her phone when we're lunching. So very rude.

February 7, 2012 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

I see that all the time here. And groups of teens hanging out, silently texting away. Are they testing each other, or people who aren't in their group?

Society seems to be losing the art of conversation. My phone is usually on but with the ringer set only for calls, so no beeps or blips for texts or BBMs. At work, it is off and in my locker. Everyone else keeps theirs in their pockets, checks it constantly, in between working with patients. I hate to think of the germs on those things...

February 7, 2012 at 4:21 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

dinah: Many years ago someone tried to pick my pocket at a packed outdoor concert in Central Park. What balls! I grabbed his wrist but he sipped away. I never saw his face.

sav: I believe there will be a great Facebook backlash. People are going to want their privacy back. You can be the vanguard of that movement!

nurse: I have a friend who will stop talking mid-sentence if I whip my phone out. God bless him for keeping me in line. I approve.

February 7, 2012 at 4:54 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

suki: There's a great commercial whereby the goal of a bunch of guys is to get so far away from civilization that they no longer have service. That's the backlash knocking on the door.

HIF: It's a proven addictive behavior. I saw evidence of it myself when I used to jam cell signals. I enjoyed many, many meltdowns because someone had their mobile taken away from them.

Ponita: I hate to sound like the old codger I am but it really is the under-30 crowd who don't seem to mind this. It's just one more thing to jam a wedge between the generations.

February 7, 2012 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...

Funny thing about me and phones. I hate talking on them. I hate it. Every since I was a kid ... I just hate, hate, hate talking on the phone. I would much rather text or email. But when you're with people, it's nice to be with people!

February 7, 2012 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger mapstew said...

Five laptops, one (very old) PC (mine!), a tablet thingy and multiple smart phones (not mine) in Chéz Map! BUT! No electronic devices allowed at meals, at other times one has to leave the room if one gets a call, and no texting if we are all watching TV or a movie.

And yes, it's the same over here, sadly. :¬(

February 7, 2012 at 6:00 PM  
Anonymous daisyfae said...

not just NYC. and not just under-30's.

me? mostly when i'm alone, or waiting on someone/something. the blackberry/web app is ok.

but on my lunch hour, with my daily companion, we will eat, yak a bit, do a quick check of what's up on e-mail/facebook, and then make fun of this person or that for over-sharing!

i will check the work e-mail sometimes when something's 'popping', but i've stopped doing that nights/weekends...

February 7, 2012 at 6:10 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Ellie: I don't like talking on cell phones. After all these years you'd think they could improve the acoustics. The still sound awful.

map: A+ for setting boundaries. You have to or chaos ensues! We do the same at Casa de Unbearable.

daisy: It's a slippery slope. I obsessively check my comments section ;-).

February 7, 2012 at 7:28 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

I read it is not good to put your DOB on Facebook but I can't remember why.
Otherwise I'm with Nurse Myra.

February 8, 2012 at 4:48 AM  
Anonymous looby said...

Hurrah! It's terribly sad, alienating, anti-social, disrespectful and utterly selfish. Like Here in Franklin there's one good friend of mine who sets my teeth on edge by texting all the time whiile I'm talking to her. If I stop talking she glacnes up at me from teh screen and says "Carry on", which is almost even ruder than the texting itself.

February 8, 2012 at 7:01 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Pat: Call me cynical but pretty soon it's not going to be good to be ON Facebook!

looby: When a friend did that to me -- stopped talking while I was texting -- I got the hint. I was embarrassed and never did it again.

February 8, 2012 at 7:14 AM  
Anonymous Sid said...

It annoys me when I'm sitting next to someone and they'd rather talk to "virtual" people. I often have to beg my sister to pay attention to me. On the other hand, I do occassionally update my twitter feed. And facebook feed. While in the company of others. But that's just to let the world know that I'm in the company of others ....

February 8, 2012 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Eryl said...

I see that here, too, and my husband isn't above doing it to me. One time I actually got up from the table and went over to talk to an old woman who was sitting alone, we had a lovely chat.

I read somewhere recently that if a company gives you something for free it's because you are the product.

February 8, 2012 at 5:40 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Sid: How can that happen?!? Who's more interesting than you? No one! Clearly it doesn't count when you do it, though.

Eryl: Have you forgiven your erring husband? And has he learned his lesson? It's a maddening problem.

February 8, 2012 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Kono said...

Yeah it happens everywhere as you can tell, i tend to like it though, people on the whole are an un-interesting lot, let them pretend to interact with invisible friends, at least then the shits aren't talking to me... haha

February 10, 2012 at 10:32 AM  
Anonymous nuttycow said...

Guilty as charged (sometimes). It depends who I'm with - if I'm with good good friends, they'll allow me a little twitter time :D

February 23, 2012 at 6:53 AM  

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