Monday, October 27, 2008

Just Turn It Off!

The minister has been preaching for ten minutes and is just getting to the main point of the sermon. The actors have woven a captivating story that is just now coming to a resolution. The violinist is just getting to the most beautiful passage of the entire symphony. BEEP…BEEP…Ta…Da! A cell phone peals out of the silence.

How many times has this happened to you? A very special moment corrupted by the modern Siren’s Song of technology. More and more the desire for continuous connectivity is running up against our peace and quiet and just plain good manners.

It is almost de rigueur at business meetings and conferences to have half of the participants texting or surfing the net on their Blackberries while someone else is speaking. Some call it multitasking. Others think that their importance is magnified by their obvious need to be in constant connection. Who knows when the President of the United States might want their advice?

Not long ago doctors and public safety personnel were the only ones with pagers, and even then, many checked them at the door. Today, there are more phones in the Sunday morning church services than exist in many Third World countries.

Even outside of the church or concert hall, many fail to abide by the most basic tenants of common courtesy. While at the local Kroger store shopping at the deli counter do we really need to discuss our latest treatment for hemorrhoids with our best telephonic friend? The most intimate of details of loves lost play out in the stores and on our streets.

There are those who think that Bluetooth® technology requires them to never be out of touch. Not long ago if you were walking along a city street and passed a single pedestrian carrying on an animated conversation with themselves you may have thought that they were a “few fries short of a happy meal.” Today it is common place to see people walking along, a Borg-like earpiece protruding from one ear. The conversations can be about what to cook for dinner or some details of what they did last night on that hot date. Neither of these topics should be forced on those who just happen to be passing by.

I am a jogger and many of my running routes take me though downtown Cincinnati during the noon hour. Crossing streets, even in cross walks and with the light, can be deadly if the driver at the light is carrying on a conversation on his cell phone. I have lost count of how many times I have narrowly missed being run over by a driver with on hand on the cell phone and the other on the steering wheel. Their eyes just look right though you while they are in rapt conversation.

I am a big fan of modern technology and I think the cell phone and laptops are nothing short of marvelous. But there is a time and place for these and other technologies. Sometimes you should just turn it all off.



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