Thursday, January 18, 2007

Why I hate Blueteeth

I am perfectly willing to acknowledge that I am a bizarrely anachronistic blast right out of the year 1960 or so, what with my Johnny Cash and Andy Griffith Show collections. I collect old radio shows, read pulp action novels, and think the notion of "postmodernity" is a load of bunk because it is really just modernity cannibalizing itself. I also prefer, horror of horrors, East facing altars.

I have also never been a big fan of talking on telephones for its own sake, especially cellphones (or for my British readers, "mobiles"). Coming from an apparently dying tradition where looking someone in the eye is the most important sign of respect because it gives someone else your full attention, I often grapple with trying to figure out the point of talking to someone on a phone is, if you can't look them in the eye. I do own a cellphone, only because there is no grounded phone line in the dorm in which I have resided for the last 3 years. And I do use it. Occasionally.

I will also certainly admit cellphones are good to have around in case of emergency. I am convinced, however, that most Americans have to live in a state of constant perceived emergency, where 99% of their emergencies are not, in fact, emergencies. Because you are going to be 15 minutes late to pick up Johnny at Soccer practice is not, in fact, an emergency.

Nothing I do is so important that it can't wait until I get back home or to the office. Even if someone is calling to tell me someone has died, there isn't much I can do about it until I get to where I am going anyway. The entire time I was in England, I had no access to a telephone of any sort, except on occasion when I was walk around the corner to use the public pay phone. The funny thing is, I never really missed it at all, in fact, the whole thing was sort of liberating.

I was walking back from the Barnes and Noble in town a few moments ago and ran into yet another person talking to themselves. I have never gotten used to this weird phenomenon of people using Bluetooth cell phone technology that they clip to their ear. I have always found this to be the epitome of American culture: being able to use cool gadgets, simultaneously multitask, and carry on mostly superficial conversations, all without having to actually be bothered to exert any physical movement whatsoever, such as lifting a cell phone up to one's ear. The result is at any given time in public now, you have a few, if not dozens, of people walking around using cellphones. You usually can't tell they are on their cellphones, so they appear to be talking to themselves.

Its really irritating when you are standing at a stop light, and the person next to you suddenly goes, "Hello...How are you?" Thinking that some person is actually trying to be civil and strike up a conversation with you and not talking into the cellphone, you respond, "Uh, fine...I guess." The person then glares at you like you're a moron and says something into the cellphone like "Some weirdo thinks I'm talking to them, can you believe that?" How was I suppose to know they were talking into an earpiece like a secret agent?

One is now left to wonder how many people are actually on cellphones and how many are truly nuts. No one seems all that concerned about it now, but a few years ago, if someone randomly started talking to themselves on the train, a policeman would be summoned. Maybe instead of being taken away in a padded truck, you could get a padded cell throw at the people who are talking to themselves.

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