Monday, November 23, 2009

GADFLY: Phone THIS home, cellulistas!

Posted By on Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 5:20 PM

click to enlarge The Gadfly
  • The Gadfly

I have a question for all you cell phone addicts: do you find yourself shopping for a waterproof cell phone just so you don't miss any calls while you're in the shower? Amazingly,  there is at least one, though I doubt in-shower use was its motivation. Surely, my cellulista friends,  you cannot be disconnected from the outside world for a nanosecond, much less for the time it takes to shampoo your hair or wash your fanny. Cellphone-itis has gotten so bad, I've noticed walkers in my neighborhood on their phones as they encourage Fido to do his thing. Hey, “walkie talkies:” why not just invite your indispensable phone buddies to walk with you. Maybe you could put a leash on them (and pick up their poo) too, while you're at it.

Which is to say, my disgust with cell phone ubiquity (and the insufferableness of its users) is reaching critical mass. For some time I've been tempted to take the unacceptability of cell phone omnipresence into my own hands. There are a variety of tactics available to deal with the boors who think the world should revolve around their cell phone conversations, wherever they happen to be. My favorite tactic was demonstrated by one of my heros, Larry David (the creator of the iconic “Seinfeld” TV series), on his HBO series, “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Confronted with a restaurant patron sitting at the table next to his,  blabbing into one of those blue tooth earpieces that make it seem like you're talking to yourself, he (Larry) starts talking to himself, as though he's having a cell phone conversation. The tactic has the desired effect, with the oblivious phone monger, annoyed by David's imaginary conversation (“at least I'm talking to a real person”), leaving the restaurant in a huff.  I've found that it's even more effective if you repeat, verbatim and at an even higher decibel level, the conversation the obnoxious talker is having, in that annoying way children learn to repeat everything a split second after somone's said it. Some cell phone scolds have taken their grievances to a whole new level,  using the information they glean from loud-mouthed cell fiends against them.

If I had my druthers, though, I wouldn't leave home without my trusty cell phone jammer. Yes, for only about a hundred bucks you too can take back the space in your immediate vicinity by disabling cell phone communication for several feet in all directions. Even though they're illegal (go ahead, arrest me),  jammers are widely available on the internet<.  Oh, how I've fantasized about carrying one of these little wonders in my pocket when I go into a public place and am subjected to some inane (and oh-so-important) conversation within earshot. Just imagine the power this little gizmo gives you to take back your aural space in public places. Go ahead, cell phoner: make my day!

Cell phones have become a pox on society. And now, of course, as if talking on them wasn't obnoxious enough, we've had the explosion of using them to text message, as well as to “tweet.” Don't get me started on “tweeting.” Actually,  it's too late.   Had an amazing orgasm or an awesome fart? Tweet about it. Someone's bound to be interested. I am convinced that civilization, as we know it, will come to an end, if not by the vast, and increasing, disparity between the haves and the have-nots, then by our inability to go for minutes at a time without  “reaching out and touching” someone. I'm beginning to understand what Greta Garbo had in mind when she uttered  her trademark line.

Of course, there's little doubt using a communication device while driving is dangerous, estimates being that  cell phone users are responsible for thousands of injuries (and hundreds of deaths) each year, the result being that restrictions on texting, and even on conversing while driving, have become justifiably widespread. “Hang up and drive” is still very good advice. Unfortunately, cell phone addiction is finding  even newer ways to enable it, although, in a hopeful sign, the addicts are implementing their own  one-step version of a self-help program.

The ultimate comeuppance for cell phone addicts is the increasing body of evidence that cell phone usage may be hazardous to health. A  definitive study on this (which also debunks the industry's surprising “findings” to the contrary) has just recently been released.  And, the World Health Organization is reportedly ready to release the  report of a long-term study with a similar conclusion.  Of course, the cell phone manufacturers vehemently deny any causal connection, and though I am one of the few remaining skeptics who believes that if you condition a lab rat to do anything (sex?) frequently enough you'll find it causes cancer, I'm not stupid enough to deny that some behaviors are unacceptably risky (e.g., texting while driving). As for the cell phone industry's denial, remember how vehemently the tobacco industry denied their product's link to cancer.  It took nearly 50 years for the dangers of tobacco to become generally recognized.  The same for many other environmental toxins, including asbestos. And, don't think those silly looking blue tooth ear pieces offer any protection, or even that just carrying your phone on your hip avoids risks.

So, it appears that Darwinian principles may eventually kick in when it comes to cell phone users. Meantime, celluslistas: STFU when you're around me. Besides, you never know when I might be carrying that jammer.

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