This weekís 'The Economist' had an interesting article discussing the etiquette quandaries posed by new technologies. To kick off the article, they mention how 'spam' was first invented by a London dentist in 1864, when he sent unsolicited telegrams to London notables, announcing his new hours and why they should become his patients. The article went on to discuss the ensuing outrage, as well as the issues posed by the advent of the telephone, fax machine, e-mail, and more recently cell phone.
Given the title of this post, you probably know where I stand on cell phones. First off, whenever you even try to conjecture that maybe everyone may not need a cell phone, or at least need it on them at all times, the first and immediate response is akin to: 'Well, it was a good thing the people in (insert recent disaster of choice) had them. Otherwise no one would know where to find them, or they wouldn't have gotten to say their good-byes.' Let me be the first to say that defense of cell phones is crap. The odds of being in one of the disasters of choice which warrants the immediate phone conversation is so infinitesimal that you might as well be saying 'I need my cell phone in case a Leprechaun calls me.'
The more plausible defense of cell phones is the adequate 'They make my life convenient,' which they do. God knows I frequently use mine to get directions from people, etc. However, because they are so convenient, they frequently serve to only make idiots more annoying. How many times have you been in Target, and some trailer park reject is screaming on the phone talking about some rash or how bad their kid is? How many times have you had to endure someone talking on their phone during a movie...or playing a game...or text messaging? Even more infuriating, how many times have you been at dinner and either someone at a nearby table, or even at your own, interrupts your dinner conversation to have one on their phone?
Admittedly, these problems cannot be thrown purely on the shoulders of the cell phone. If anything I think itís another symptom of the hyper-individualism that modern American hyper-consumer culture has generated. As a society we have lost any awareness of etiquette and proper procedure. If the cell phone were produced in Victorian England, I'm fairly certain there would be an etiquette guide written to tell you how/when to use it, just like there were for how to arrange fruit at a proper dinner party.
And maybe, in the end, we just need to devise a protocol for the cell phone. In Spain and Japan they are beginning to put signal blockers in churches and movies theatres (respectively), in Scandinavian countries, it is protocol to text someone before a call, to ensure it is an appropriate time to do so. Or maybe, as respectable, courteous individuals we need to start confronting those who are breeching the bounds of proper behavior by pointing out we don't want to know about their rashes or that their girlfriend will still be there after the movie. Or, maybe we need to ask W.W.S.D? and just have them shot.*
*-What Would Stalin Do?
Quote of the Day:
Me (During a game of Horrorclix): The Fat Lady just broke her jaw, trying to eat a bear.
Posted at 07:19 pm by Scott