Let’s talk about cell phones. Have you noticed that people in general are so focused on these small screens that they forget where they are and become almost hypnotized?
Here are a few incidents that I’ve observed.
- I was driving in the fast lane and some idiot was moving at less than 30 miles an hour even though the speed limit was 45. As I grudgingly passed on the right, I glanced over and saw the driver was having a very animated discussion on her cell phone. She was shouting, waving her arms, making animated faces, and definitely not paying attention to her driving. In fact, quite often her hands were not even on the steering wheel.
- A lady in the supermarket “honored” all the customers within earshot with a heated, loud argument with her husband on her cell phone while shopping. Everyone got to hear about how he had an affair, how hurt she was, what a monster he is to the kids, and so forth. This obnoxious person continued her argument at the top of her lungs even while standing in the checkout line and handing her money over to the cashier!
- I watched as a young man crossed the street without looking because he was intent on something obviously super important on his cell phone. A car came within inches of hitting him at high speed because this man was not paying attention to his surroundings. As the car whizzed by, the had the gall to flip off the driver.
- I got into an elevator and noticed the other passengers, about half a dozen of them , were all intent upon those little glowing screens. What could be so important?
- As I sat at Massage Envy, I looked around with part amusement and part sadness as the dozen other people in the lounge all fiddled with their phones. Here was the perfect opportunity to strike up conversations or read one of the magazines or just relax, and these people were glued to their phones as if their lives depended upon it.
- There were two receptionists at the company where I used to work who were fired, in part, for excessive cell phone (texting) use. I had a conversation with these ladies and, noticing how much they were texting, jokingly said the average teenager received and sent over 2,000 texts a month. The lady looked at me and stated that was nothing. The month before her phone bill showed over 10,000 text messages! This lady practically lived through her phone. She didn’t actually have a life in the real world. To her, communication was via phone and text.
Everyday as I walk I pass people staring into their cell phones instead of looking around at nature or art or other interesting things going on around them. I think it’s weird that people will pay good money to go to a movie with their friends, then spend most of the time in the dark theater texting and even talking on their phones. Not only is that extremely rude to the others in the theater, but it seems so pointless. Why not just stay home?
Cell phones have even been the cause of major train accidents
In 2008 there was a major train collision in Chatsworth, California, which killed 25 people and injured over a hundred more. At first it was reported this horrible crash was the result of malfunctioning lights, but upon investigation it was discovered actual cause was the engineer was texting and failed to pay attention to the perfectly working signals. [2008 Chatsworth Train Collision]
That’s an extreme example, or at least it seems, but every year thousands of people are injured or killed because someone was texting or talking on their cell phone while driving.
In fact, a test by Car and Driver magazine showed texting while driving is more dangerous than driving drunk. A study by Virginia Tech showed texting, talking or even dialing a cell phone while driving dramatically increases the odds of getting into an accident.
It’s hard for the younger folk to believe, I know, that not everyone carried a cell phone until just a couple of decades ago. There was a time when the way to make a call was to use your home phone (yes, a land line) or a carry some quarters so you could use the local payphone. Good luck even finding a payphone these days, and they definitely cost far more than a quarter.
It is possible to survive without being connected to the net (or whatever) 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In fact, it is actually far healthier and better for life and living to put the damn phone down, turn it off, and do something, anything, that doesn’t involve a tiny screen and a miniature keyboard.
I know I’ve been guilty of this very thing for years. I’ve glued myself to my phone as a way to avoid talking to people or just to have something to do while eating in a restaurant. I’ve argued on phones in public, I’ve walked into the road without looking because I was intent on the screen, and yes, I have talked and texted while driving (and received a ticket or two because of it).
But no more. When I drive, the cell phone now goes in the trunk. It can still connect via Bluetooth to the HD radio so I can still receive calls if I want, but I cannot be tempted to use it for anything else. While driving, nothing is as important as keeping my eyes on the road and my attention focused.
I carry my Kindle, so if I do want to have something to do while sitting, waiting or eating, at least I can catch up on a good novel or article. I have access to millions of books on my Kindle, so it’s a surety that I can find something of interest.
When I’m at a restaurant or in an elevator or anyplace in public, the phone stays in my pocket and I look around and talk to people. Most of them even seem to like to have a friendly conversation with a stranger. It’s far more fun than starring at some dumb old phone.
I think this will help improve the quality of my life even more. After all, the world exists out there, not in some little tiny screen in the palm of your hand.