Column - Cell phones make us baboonsVery soon, next to my “Please take off shoes” sign on the front door, there will be another sign: “Leave cell phone outside!”
By: Dennis Dalman, Alexandria Echo Press
Very soon, next to my “Please take off shoes” sign on the front door, there will be another sign: “Leave cell phone outside!”
I’m sick and tired of people coming to visit, only to spend half the time here on their cell phones. An emergency call or two? Fine. But it’s never an emergency; it’s always just a steady stream of chit-chat babble. Usually, true, visitors don’t initiate the calls, but that doesn’t matter. They should have the courtesy to say, “Sorry, I’m busy. I’ll call you back.”
Cell-phone chatter is bad enough. What’s worse is texting. I used to think texting was a silly teenage fad that would pass quickly, like all teenage fads. Not only has it not “passed,” a survey by the Pew Research Group shows that 68 percent of high school students “text” while they’re in their classrooms. And now, to my disgust, adults have glommed onto this teen “fad.” They, too, are texting like grinning baboons. They sit there, hunched over, their fingers in a frenzied movement, as if they’re grooming lice from the baby baboon.
One friend in particular is especially irritating. He sits at my kitchen table, his head bowed as if in prayer as he peers at his cell phone upon his knee. He’s a multi-tasker – well, I should say, he thinks he’s a multi-tasker – because he can carry on a conversation, sort of, while he’s texting. However, the “conversation” is like a radio station that keeps tuning in, then fading out. I’ll say something, and it’s obvious the baboon isn’t listening; he’s texting.
The other day I told him what he can do with his cell phone.
“Oh, you’re still stuck in the 19th century,” he scoffed.
Better to be stuck there than stuck in this new Age of Attention-Deficit Disorder. And, I swear, most people are suffering from one form or another of ADD – especially the cell-phone gabbers and texters. Half the time, they’re not listening; their minds are somewhere else; in fact, they’re just not paying attention.
“Knock, knock, is anybody HOME?” you want to yell at them.
Cell phones are good – for emergencies, for urgent messages and to keep children and parents in touch. For everything else, they are just plain rude intrusions. They are just one more example of this mindless attitude that if something is technologically nifty, it must be good; the cat’s meow.
Some teachers are now letting students use texting in classrooms – to take notes and do Internet research. The teachers’ rationale is that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Three young students, interviewed on TV, said the new rule is good because they’d rather “text” their notes than hand-write them. Those three students were obviously bright and motivated. What about the rest of the students in that class – not so bright perhaps, not so motivated.
It’s a sad day when teachers cave in to students’ whims, and this is just another example of that. Some schools even purchase the cell phones for the students. I would love to peer over the shoulders of those students just to see how many are actually taking notes or doing “research.”
Why would teenagers – or anyone else for that matter – rather text than talk? I’ve asked young people that question, but I never get an answer that makes any sense.
I keep thinking, keep hoping, that texting really is just a fad. It’s just lasting a bit longer than the usual fads. But I fear that’s just wishful thinking.
There may come a day, sadly, when every old-timer realizes you can’t beat ‘em, so join ‘em. In which case, it’s time for the old one to plug in, tune out and turn into yet another self-absorbed baboon.