Recently, I started thinking about the impact of cell phones on my world. In some significant ways – they have been a powerful source of negative intrusion:
Feeling safe while driving. This one is well documented, but the impact on my safety is hitting me in a whole new way. I’m always aware these days that some knucklehead driver is out there, possibly near me on the freeway, talking on the phone, or worse, texting. I think these people are supremely disrespectful, and only marginally safer than drunk drivers. I’m just realizing how unsettled I feel on the roads. I mostly stopped going out at night because of drinking and driving, but with cell users, it can happen any time of the day or night – and I feel just as unsafe.
The highway is the most noticeable intrusion. But there are other places where the losses, though subtle – are substantial.
The library as a peaceful place to work. For many years, I have used a library as a quiet place to work and be able to concentrate. It was a great place for peaceful reflection, and a wonderful place to be creative. I’ve done some great writing in a library, and developed an outline for several books as well. A quiet library was a creative power spot for me.
I started noticing the cell phone intrusion in the library about 5 years ago. People would walk by, or sit down near me, talking on their cell phones – like they were in their own homes. They had no regard for the quiet concept of the library, and talked in normal voices. I guess the librarians just gave up trying to stop it, because they act conspicuously oblivious. Or maybe they think it’s OK. The librarians I grew up around would not tolerate that behavior for a moment. These days, the library just doesn’t feel the same – it no longer has the reverent attitude toward quiet that made it so special, serene and peaceful. That has been a BIG loss for me.
The enjoyment of movies in a theater. The last time I went to a movie in a theater – mind you, this was 2 years ago – some woman was talking on the phone behind me, while the movie was running. It was evidently supremely important to tell her friend what she was up to. Then several rows in front of me, some dufus decided to check his email, so I had to endure the glare of the light on his cell phone. No usher came to stop the behavior, and everyone acted like it was normal. Possibly because it would give them permission to take a call or check email if they needed to – it’s looking like using cell phones in the movie theater may be the new norm.
I’ve been reading a lot recently about what can be done – the thoughts range from banning cell phones in movie theaters, to saying cell phones are just fine, and let everyone use them in the theater. I read that the younger generation thinks it’s just fine to text during a movie. I just recently realized, I haven’t been back to the movies since that incident several years ago. I don’t want to risk the aggravation, or trying to figure out what to do about it. Not to mention, I don’t want to suffer the complete disruption of my ability to immerse myself in a movie experience.
An element of courtesy. I think the theme that runs through these losses is a fundamental loss of courtesy. I think the key word is entitlement. Somehow a cell phone user thinks – I have a phone, and I’m entitled to use it – regardless of who it might bother. But it’s like someone said – for every right, there is an attendant responsibility. The right is being used – it’s just the responsibility that seems to have slipped away. Using cell phones in cafes and public places has become so accepted, we tolerate the loud talker telling everyone about their day while we’re eating dinner. But as the disrespect has bled over into other areas – it just bothers me more significantly and deeply.
I don’t offer a solution. I’m just observing, as the magnitude of the losses really hits me.
Texting While Driving, by Lord Jim @ Flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.
Don’t Shush Me!, by Seattle University School of Law Library @ Flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.
Texting by amber_rsm @ flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.