Okay, get the children out of the room because I’m now going to deliver what my daughter Brooks has dubbed my “stodgy old-man rant.”
Of course, she’s wrong about the first two parts — that I’m stodgy and old — but I will accept the rant part.
I just can’t hold back any longer. As far as I’m concerned, the Smartphone and the iPhone — which are less phone than constant communication devices — are, to some degree, ruining social interaction as we have known in since the advent of civilized society.
My benchmark for this judgment is my parents. They were two of the smartest and most gracious and refined people I have ever known. My father had a CPA and master’s degree and was a college professor most of his career. My mother had a master’s in English Literature and also taught at the college level. My father was a brilliant conversationalist and story teller, and my mother always got in her share of conversation and made each person around her feel like they had her undivided attention — which they did.
So, I can tell you unequivocally that the presence of a dinging, beeping, buzzing or ringing electronic device in social company would have absolutely horrified both of them. I’m pretty sure that if they were alive today and had people over who had their phones out — referring to them every few seconds or minutes for “important” updates from the outside world — those people would never have been invited back.
God bless them. I tell you, it makes me proud to be able to say that about them and know exactly what their reaction would have been.
On his deathbed — he died eight years ago — my father didn’t say, “JimmyC, promise me you’ll never pull out your cell phone when in the company of others,” but I did scare the crap out of him more than once when I was highway driving, talking on the phone and holding the steering wheel with one hand.
I don’t do that any more. I seldom talk on the phone while driving, and when I do, I use the Sync system — when it works.
Much worse than talking while driving, to me, is being with people in their (or your) home or at a restaurant and one or more of them have their phones out, either on the table or in their hands — fielding texts, emails and sometimes calls.
To me, that is virtually the same as looking over the shoulder of someone you’re talking to at a party and checking out the crowd.
As daughter Brooks so aptly put it (and by the way, even though she knows a rant when she sees one, she totally agrees with me), with the “phone-out” culture, “it’s become socially acceptable to be rude.”
Amen, Brooks, amen.
…The difficult part about this is that I have some very good friends who do exactly what I have described. My best friend, who lives in our hometown of Louisville, has become a slave to his phone. He’s a busy realtor, which is one reason for his dependency, but still, even in the evenings, he frequently lets himself be sucked into the “I-must-be-missing-something-more-important-elsewhere” syndrome and yields to the temptation to absorb himself in the phone.
Also, Patty does it to some extent. My wife! What’s a guy to do? Am I going to dump my best friend and my wife? Of course not. I’m stuck with these people…Scratch that; it’s off the record…What I mean is I’m going to be true to the friends I’ve already got and just grit my teeth and suffer the indignity. But as for any fledgling, prospective friends who find their phones more interesting than me — well, they’re not going to be good-chum candidates. They will find themselves on permanent hold.
Now, I guess you’re wondering how “Mr. Manners” of the local blogosphere handles the phone dilemma.
Well, I (that’s who I was referring to, in case you were confused) have a flip phone, and all I do is text occasionally and make and receive calls.
I keep the phone on vibrate 95 percent of the time. (That can cause problems, of course, because recently I lost the phone in the house for 24 hours and couldn’t find it partly because it didn’t ring when I called it with Patty’s phone.)
If I feel the phone vibrate when I’m actively engaged with others, I don’t pull it out and check to see whose calling or texting. I wait until there’s a break and I go to the restroom or another room away from the gathering and check there. If it’s important, I will make a quick call or send a text. As we all know, however, 95 percent of the time, it’s shit that can wait — usually a long time.
I’m not suggesting that we turn back the hands of time and go back to flip phones. What I am suggesting is that the dipsticks out there who can’t muster the willpower to resist the seductive siren of their cellphones wise up and develop some good cellphone manners.
Brooks said it’s become socially acceptable to be rude. No, I won’t accept that. It’s never acceptable to be rude. If you’re guilty, knock it off.
…I’m done spewing.