A rant on cell phones

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Recently I was settling into the delicious dark of a movie theater when a cell phone rang and the owner didn't scramble to turn it off but instead, answered it and then proceeded to carry on a loud and inane conversation.

Beware.

I am about to let my inner Andy Rooney loose. Thanks to the ubiquitous cell phone, the Culture of Narcissism is now being taken to new heights, and not just by boomers. I can't tell you how many times I have been in the middle of a wonderful conversation and the other person, without missing a beat, answers his cell phone and segues shamelessly into another conversation while I am forced to stand by. ( I don't know about you, but my momma taught me better.)

Ringtones

Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is especially obnoxious. Actually, I don't even like them even when it is the Rolling Stones' "Get Off My Cloud."

Driving unconsciously while yakking on the cell

One eagle-eyed correspondent did a scientific survey as she takes her morning walk.

"I estimate that 70 percent of people I observe are using them while driving. They zoom by me, and almost into me -- in well-marked crosswalks! -- because they are so busy gabbing on their phones."

Chipmunking

This is cellular-speak for those Blackberry (or "Crackberry") users who find it necessary to return e-mails under the table while seated at the finest restaurant.

Emily W. asks: "Why are all messages on cell phones and Blackberrys emergencies? Apparently, the rest of us are missing hundreds of emergencies every day."

Not knowing who is crazy

It seems to have become perfectly acceptable in our society to walk down the street apparently talking to yourself. As Rob E. points out: "The proliferation of cell phones can help hide psychotic disorders. Especially with those goofy wireless earphones, we can no longer tell who is crazy and who is not."

Interfering with our privacy

We all feel the intrusion of all those overly loud conversations held in public as if we weren't there. Sally O. describes it well: "Peace is not to be found. Even in public rest rooms, the gabbers are at it. A courteous person would not flush until the person on the cell has finished her conversation. But then, a courteous person would probably not be talking while on the toilet."

Drunk dialing

Psychologist Michael Errico has this to say about that: "What about the need to delay gratification, that pillar of emotional health? Are we less patient in the age of cell phones? Do we make more mistakes by acting impulsively than we would have with a more primitive technology where more time was required to think things through? We all know people who text their way into trouble they wouldn't get into if they had to use snail mail."

Maybe I have just firmly entered the world of Geezerdom. Maybe I have just crossed over to the land where I am unable to adapt to new cultural trends. But I really don't think this new culture that has arisen around cell phones is healthy.

Besides, I really think cell phones pose a more serious danger. I will end my rant with this rhetorical question: Are we living in a world where we actually use technology to distance ourselves from those that mean the most to us?

Dr. Seabaugh is an admitted cell phone user who admits to his share of indiscretions with cellular devices. Otherwise, he is a Cape Girardeau native and a clinical psychologist who lives in Santa Barbara. Contact him at mseabaugh@mac.com.

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