Thursday, November 15, 2007

This is a recycling of my past writing. I'm fully aware that I'm cheating a bit, but today was Evan's half birthday and I was working late and so I'm just now getting time to sit down with the blog and get something posted. Instead of slugging out a forced post and hoping through bleary eyes that I'm hitting most of the right keys in the right order, I'm just going to copy and paste an essay I wrote a couple of years ago. To help explain some of the middle portion with it's references to KSU, I was attending Kennessaw State University at the time, and this was written originally for a class there. I may come in and tweak that section to make it have a more universal appeal tomorrow, but don't plan on it. That drug abuse post is still coming, by the way. I'm just fine tuning the playlist.

I hate Mr. Bell

Or: A Humorous Character Assassination of Man’s Best Friend

If I had a time machine, I’d go back and shoot Alexander Graham Bell. Right in his emmeffin face. The only problem is the fact I’d go broke buying bullets to kill the people who would follow in his footsteps with the same idea. I’d probably rack up a load of bad karma with all life-taking anyway, so it's probably best I don't actually have a time machine. Besides, my only real grudge against the patron saint of the global village is that I freaking hate telephones.

It’s not that I don’t find the things useful. Being able to contact someone when you need to is a great convenience. It can also be a good thing in situations where emergency contact with the outside world can be the difference between life and death. The drawbacks are that the contraptions are invasive, rude and irritating. I mean, if you wanted to talk to someone, you wouldn’t walk up to them and start shrieking at them until they pay you attention. That’s just rude isn’t it? Here’s a little experiment for you to try. Wait until one of your friends has started a conversation with someone else, and then walk up beside them and starting loudly ringing a bell. See if they’ll want to talk to you after that. Yet, we seem perfectly happy to answer the phone in the middle of talking to someone else just because our trilling master is calling. If I weren’t married to someone who suffers from this long-distance addiction, I’d only have one phone in the house, with the ringer turned off and an answering machine that you could leave a message on if you needed me. If you couldn’t muster the patience to leave a message, what you had to tell me obviously wasn’t that important.

I like silence. I like having time to myself. I like to be able to just think. When I watch a movie or read a book, that’s what I want to do. I obviously didn’t want to talk to someone or I would have found someone to talk to. Sometimes I just want to be alone, disconnected and unplugged and when that damned infernal racket destroys my solitude and forces me back into the grid, I get really pissed off. “Leave me alone!” I want to shout. “Can’t you tell that I’m not in the mood for talking?” But the caller can’t tell. They aren’t in the same room with me. They can’t see me, so they don’t know that I was perfectly happy there by myself. Or on the toilet. Luckily. Instead they want to know if I can bring them lunch, go out tonight, come in to work early or if I want to buy vinyl siding. Sure I don’t mind the first two, but it doesn’t help that calls like those are in the minority.

Another thing that bugs me about telephones is our society’s addiction to them. There’s something I’ve noticed during my few weeks on KSU’s campus that I haven’t noticed before. It seems that when you walk outside that at least half of the people walking between buildings have a cell phone stuck to their ear. I’ve already gone to college once and it was only a year and a half ago that I graduated, but I don’t remember this plethora of digital conversations happening on the sidewalks at Berry. But it’s not just at Kennesaw. My sister says she’s noticed the same thing at UGA. The dependency on these things baffles me. I thought a major part of the college experience was meeting new people and making new friends. I fail to understand how you’re going to meet anyone while you’re on the telephone. Of course, you might forget where you’re going and run into someone, but that’s not exactly getting off on the right foot now is it?

This addiction doesn’t end with the bored, spoiled offspring of America’s middle class. For example: I was driving down the interstate one day and saw these two business types riding in a car together. They were sitting inches away from each other yet neither man paid the other any attention, as they were both too occupied jawing on their mobiles to someone outside the car. This doesn’t make any sense. Sure, maybe they had business they needed to attend to, but is our society so caught up in our fast capitalist pace that we have to multitask to the point of having one business meeting while driving from the first to the third? Maybe I’m lazy, but I think sometimes work should come after other things. Like watching where you’re going as you’re driving 90 an hour down the highway, for example.

In a way, the telephone, and more specifically the cell phone, has become a social crutch. We’re afraid of new things and new people, so we rely on our phone to keep us connected to the familiar as a way to avoid the unfamiliar. It’s a little ironic that this technology designed to keep us connected over long distances seems to keep us from connecting with the people only feet away. I mean, if we’re going to be a society full of introverts who never talk to the people around us, why can’t we do it the old-fashioned way by locking ourselves in our parents’ basements and playing video games. It’d keep me from having to hear that damned ringing at least.


Mickey said...

Dude, we should go start our own country and call it Curmudgeonia. First item- no cell phones, period. I only got the damn thing when I found out how much a land line was going to cost. Nothing but headaches. And contracts. Damn those contracts. Do you know why my phone never goes off in the movie theater? Because it's at home where it belongs. It wouldn't ring anyway because nobody calls me. Just as well. I'm just not that pathetically co-dependent. I feel a rant coming on.

Courtney said...

Whenever classes change around here, every single student walking through the halls our outside has either a cell phone or iPod earbuds attached to their ears. It's like an aural fixation. It's good for entertainment, though, whenever you see someone calling after someone they know. They can be screaming at the top of their lungs and the person they're screaming at won't turn around unless they catch up to them and physically touch them.