Posted by: bkivey | 20 January 2010

Can you hear me now?

I am often amused by the fascination and in some cases near-total absorption some people have with their gadgets. The cell phone seems to have become a surrogate pacifier for a lot of people. If you spend any time at all in a public place you will see people fiddling with their phones in some manner. Whether they are talking, surfing the web, listening to music, watching video, or whatever else you can do with a phone, it will be happening.

A cell phone can be an expensive habit. I once overheard a teenage girl tell her friend (not on the phone) that her cell phone bill was $160 a month! I was stunned. My goodness! It is entirely possible to buy a car for less than that. That’s more than my monthly food expenditure.

Let’s be honest. Judging by the phone conversations that I overhear very few of them are of earth-shaking importance and most could be considered banal. I have heard any number of people call someone just to say “I’m on my way over.” Presumably the caller has already made arrangements with the callee, so I am at a loss to understand why further confirmation is necessary. Are people really that insecure? Or is it a feeling that if you aren’t doing something every minute, no matter how inconsequential, that you are somehow wasting your time? Activity for the sake of activity is not productive.

Cell phones are wonderful inventions and useful tools, but some folks seem to have completely lost their perspective when it comes to using them. I have overheard conversations concerning private matters that I’m pretty sure the caller wouldn’t be having with some random stranger, but because they are on the phone it’s like they think they’re in a soundproof bubble. I guess I could call them and let them know that Hello! Everybody within fifteen feet can hear you! If I am in a public place and get a call that I deem to be private I will tell the caller that I can’t talk right then and call them back later. I would venture to say that very few people have things going on in their lives that require them to have private conversations Right Now and to use their calling-in-the-cows voices to have them.

It has occurred to me that maybe one of the ubiquitous street musicians could start riding public transit and make up songs based on phone conversations they overhear. They might make some money and they would certainly get people to think about the sensibilities of other when they are on the phone.

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