Thursday, May 1, 2008

Can you hear me now?

From some remote outpost comes the question of this age; "Can you hear me now?" I think a better question would be; "Where can I go so I don't have to hear you?" I don't really want to go to the Amazon to get a little peace and quiet. I would prefer responsible action by some of my fellow citizens. I feel confident if I followed some SUV's around town, and watched their thirty something drivers, I would never see them put down their cell phones. Now what could be so important in this day and age that it couldn't wait until you got home or to the office to be addressed? It got handled in all those years before, why not now?

I remember cell phones when they weren't cool. When I was a criminal investigator, we got these brick phones. I guess they were called that because they were rectangular and about the size of a standard brick. These replaced the larger and more cumbersome bag phones. We thought we had arrived. And, not everyone in the entire world had one. Most were in the hands of business people and we didn't carry them with us everywhere we went. Now, however, people with no qualifications what-so-ever other than cash or enough credit to get signed up have them. They carry them everywhere and there are no rules in most places to govern their use. It's like introducing a species of Carp into a lake to eat unwanted plant growth and having them take over the entire lake and all its inhabitants. I am not sure, but it looks like almost all the drivers in our area think it is mandantory to talk on the cell phone while you drive. They rarely make eye contact at four way stop signs, or in situations that call for a yield - This makes me very nervous. Early attempts at hands free usage were not always satisfactory and caused some circulation problems to arise.
Now with Bluetooth technology everyone who wishes can walk around talking into the air. In the grocery store I hear people talking near me and turn around to see them staring into space engaged in conversation. They have nothing in their hands, and I'm moved to respond to them. Then I realize they have some sort of remote phone hookup plugged into their ear. In the past, people were sent to the funny farm for such behavior. People walking around looking at their phones watching sports, stock market reports, reading books, checking e-mail, and getting GPS coordinates, anything and everything but paying attention to what they need to be paying attention to. We could be attacked by outside forces and very few in this country would know about it unless someone sent them a text message. Those special and unique ring tones can be heard in every venue imaginable; church, movies, business meetings, the operating room, wilderness areas, and almost any other place within reach of a transmission tower. If I were a real king, I would have a thing or two to say about over communication. I wrote this poem early in the inundation period, I hope it is still valid today.


Whoever thought a modern invention,
designed to assist us,
could cause such contention?

In theory it’s great,
a freeing contraption.
But freedom’s a dream,
an illusive distraction.
We’re free, but we’re not.
We can’t get away.
It’s there in our lives
every night, every day.
No rest at a meal,
in a movie or church.
No relief from the thing
at play or at work.

“Turn it off, turn it off.”
There are signs and announcements,
admonitions and pleadings,
proclamations, pronouncements.

We forgot to consider the human condition.
That one fatal flaw that leads to perdition.
“It’s mine, it’s mine.”
they say as they flaunt.
“I’ll force you to listen.
I don’t care what you want.”

We swerve and careen
ever faster and bolder
with that hard plastic case
pinned twixt cheekbone and shoulder.

We’ll pass laws I am sure,
but who will obey them?
We’ll never return to those
days without mayhem.

Most modern calendars mar the sweet simplicity of our lives by reminding us that each day that passes is the anniversary of some perfectly uninteresting event. -
Oscar Wilde