Cell Out: The In-elegance of Electronics

It’s really come to this hasn’t it? Ubiquitous computing. That’s pretty exciting. Just twenty years ago, cell phones were the size of bricks, walkie-talkie-like, cumbersome. Which may have been a good thing. And accessing instant information? Call KU-INFO.

(Siegel for News)

“Zagat restaurant guide says 63% of Americans frown on cell phone use during meals” (Source of quote and photo: The New York Daily News)

I began thinking of this yesterday when, around five, a car pulled up and stopped in front of my house. Inside, the three twenty-somethings were each texting madly away. No conversation was being held; among themselves at any rate. The boy in the bubble holds new meaning these days.

At a restaurant, one is more likely to see a scene like the one above than outrageous flirting across the table with a dinner companion. Just take a look around this St. Valentine’s Day. I’m not sure that figure is correct in the headline above. It seems like at least 63% of diners are playing with their electronics.

I have a friend who is constantly plugged into the cloud. Sure, it takes the onus off me — I don’t have to be entertaining, witty, or intelligent. I just have to be there. Perhaps to summon the waiter for more wine. But, it’s a bit off-putting as I’m not being entertained either. And that’s the fun of dining in company.

Texting whilst driving is just complete madness and scares me to death. I read a story somewhere that said that those texting behind the wheel had reaction times FAR slower than even drunk drivers.

Maybe it’s time to bring back those brick-sized mobiles. Or hope that pocket electronics get so small that no one can read the screen. It’s a shame. With the incredibly elegant advancements in personal computing and communications (aesthetically, intuitively, the whole package), we are being driven farther apart than ever. Isolated, albeit together.

I think it is far more elegant to be engaged with one’s surroundings.

Or, as we used to say, stop and smell the roses. Try it this weekend.

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12 Responses to Cell Out: The In-elegance of Electronics

  1. Penelope Bianchi says:

    I totally agree! I was just in New York and Washington DC; and everyone walking around, clicking, clicking! And at dinner! EVERYONE!!!

    I am waiting for the backlash!!!

    Penelope

  2. Brohammas says:

    Of course manners should be had by all, but…
    Iphones are the ultimate in electronic elegance. With the swipe of a hand or finger you command information and communication… just not at dinner.

  3. Brother Brohammas — that was where I was going when I wrote “the incredibly elegant advancements….” I’m still on the fence about signing on to the iPhone with the 3G network or waiting for 4G next summer… .

  4. Jeremiah says:

    Wow. You didn’t even touch on the irony of posting your mild rant on a (FREAKING!) blog…. ; {‘>

  5. Jeremiah, I write in the privacy of my library, alone, on my laptop. Which I where I read the blogs I follow.

  6. mary says:

    I’m in complete agreement on this one. When someone is using a cell phone at dinner, bathing the kids, spending time with friends, crossing the street, etc. they are not really present where they are–and besides, it is just plain rude. Turn off the cell phone when with others, except when absolutely necessary. Thanks for opening up the conversation.

  7. Robert says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Staring at and fiddling with a smart phone over dinner is bad, what’s worse is doing it during a conversation.

    It’s seems to be socially acceptable to stop during a conversation to check emails/texts/tweets/etc and to just say “Sorry, just checking my email” afterwards. It makes me wonder if they see their email as more important that me.

    My phone stays in my pocket until I am alone.

  8. ADG says:

    It’s the personification of the lost art of courtesy that’s so manifest in our society.

  9. There is no living in the moment these days…not even a vague notion of what is going on around you. I was on a small plane going to BWI and a 9 year old got to sit in the right hand seat of the plane for the trip. The ENTIRE time he played on his smart phone. It was so sad to me.

  10. Hilton says:

    Monkey see, monkey do.

    The cell phone is an ugly object as is the use of the same. I’m just not a slave to technology. I prefer to keep mine hidden and to be discreet about the usage.

    Why must there always be technology between us? Why not meet face to face?

  11. Paula says:

    One of the saddest things I see is a young woman–whether she is the mother or the nanny–pushing the stroller down the street while holding the cell phone to her ear, yakking it up with someone else. The babies are listening of course. The child in tow realizes they are not the focus of their Mom or sitter’s attention. This is a missed opportunity to speak directly to the baby/child, whether it is on a walk or in the car, about what is going on around them and what they see. It is a missed opportunity to talk softly and affectionately to the child. Babies and children who have direct, one-on-one conversation are in all ways better developed and certainly more interested in the world around them and more verbal. This “talking over” a youngster is so self-centered and self-important–it really makes me choke when I see it. Do Moms (or Dads) really think a kid wants to be dragged around the neighborhood listening to their ongoing chatter about soon-to-be-irrelevant issues during what is supposed to be time with the kids. Here is a message for everyone out there–shush up–just for a few minutes each day, and especially when with your children. Thanks for the post, Mr. E, and forgive my rant here– The yakking is so out of control. No one’s lives are that important that they need to be in constant yak mode, either by cell phone or text. No one. Rude doesn’t begin to describe it. It is an entire society of ‘The Big Me.’

  12. Pingback: The art of texting etiquette « laceyblackman

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