Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Apologies . . .

I was very busy yesterday with meetings and what not -- I don't know how people like PZ Meyers and Orac manage to pump out acres of blog every day while maintaining active research programs -- and I was also somewhat inarticulate with rage. There's a lot of that going around.

Anyway, I know I tend to harsh your mellow a bit too much, but today I'm going to give y'all some very important, unsolicited and possibly obnoxious advice: Hang up the Goddamn phone and pay attention to your driving! Amy Ship figures that as a primary care doc, if she's supposed to ask her patients about tobacco and alcohol and unsafe sex and all that jive, she had better ask them about cell phone yacking and driving and encourage them to cut it TF out.

I agree. Among my many vices, I happen to be a pedestrian, and I can't tell you how many times morons who were talking on the phone and driving with one hand or their knees have damn near killed me. As Ship tells you, as long as you're yacking on the phone you might as well be doing jello shots because it is precisely as dangerous as driving drunk. Ergo, it is not just stupid, it is immoral, because you are risking the lives of all the people around you in order to indulge in pointless, probably moronic chatter.

Please note that Homo sapiens got by just fine without mobile phones for 450,000 years. Ergo, it is impossible that your phone call is necessary, and highly unlikely that it is even important. Personally, I am sick and tired of listening to women break up with their boyfriends over the telephone on the sidewalk. My brother was heading to his car in the parking lot of the hospital where he works (that's the only thing we have in common) and here was a young woman yelling into her cell phone "Joey, pick up the Goddamn phone! Joey, why don't you answer the @@#$%^ phone! Joey!" Then a guy standing 10 away turned around and said "What? WTF do you want?" I was walking home from the subway and one of my neighbors was just ahead of me, talking to his wife on the phone about refinancing their mortgage, then he got home and said "Oh, I'll hang up now, I'm home." He couldn't have waited three minutes to have the conversation?

I see these people walking, and driving, and eating in restaurants, and paying for their purchases and making deposits at the bank and they're talking on the phone the entire time. Who the hell are they talking to? Why is it so much more important than interacting with the actual real world in which they are existing and the real people who are in it? It was completely unnecessary ten years ago, in fact it never even occurred to anybody that it might be desirable.

It isn't. Hang up the goddamn phone.


Anonymous said...

Here, newspaper articles have speculated that it might be more dangerous than drunk driving. Because two very recent serious accidents were caused by cell phone talk, not only according to the police (who don’t keep clear stats on this matter) but by the perps themselves.

**Lesson: never, ever, telephone someone who is driving to give them serious or alarming news. **

The phone cos. perceived a window for profit.

Which meshed in with the gradual fractioning and tribalization of society. When I was a child, if you took a train or a bus, you were one with the other ppl on the vehicle. You were, temporarily, part of that group. Therefore, you spoke to ppl the way you might in a local shop or at home, and were also polite because you were ‘on stage.’ Authority was present in the shape of the conductor or ticket checkers. Everyone behaved nicely and fun and interesting (or even passionate) encounters could be had. Vandalism was unknown and public transport was super-safe, because of the presence of (usually) a largish group or responsible adults. I was allowed to walk in the street on my own from age 4, and used public transport alone aged 6. (OK I live in Switzerland.) Today, many of the ppl in the bus are linked only to their family or ‘buddies’ etc. Still, here, it is not quite yet so bad. I still see kids aged 6 alone in the bus. And someone yakking on the phone will hang up if someone on the bus speaks to them. The conductor does intervene if music (etc.) is too loud.

Psychologists and sociologists have written a lot about social groups, population density, tipping points, tribalism, modern society, etc. E.g. Meeting (seeing, crossing) X number of strangers per day leads to depersonalization. (etc.)

Most of them do not mention that in a profit oriented, so called-‘free market’ economy, fractioning groups, destroying cohesion, will lead to fantastic short term profits for those who understand what to do. Individuals who are isolated, insecure, with poor ‘self-esteem’ in today’s jargon will both work harder to get money and spend more on bolstering their security (alarms, cams, SUVs, etc.), their self-esteem (plastic surgery, status symbols, brand name clothes, or just fancy chips in the supermarket), and their sparse and deficient social contacts need to be cemented, to obtain some validation, some minimal support and love in dangerous, wildly competitive, sometimes potentially violent, situations.

Enter, ta rah, the cell phone. Of course, it also fosters illusions of freedom and power: I can talk to whom I want when I want! And as a status symbol, or life line, essential equipment, in the OECD the poorest ppl still have cell phones. They probably need them more than others.


C. Corax said...

I'm down with you, bro.

Driving is a demolition derby now. Riding a bike has become much more dangerous. I find it easier to be extra vigilant while on foot, but the need is so much greater now.

As someone who does drive sometimes (I prefer taking the bus), I can tell you that on campus, pedestrians on the cell phone will step out into the street without looking--even when not at a crosswalk. It's a very bad problem; drivers need to pay attention, but pedestrians do too.

People speaking on cell phones speak more loudly than in normal conversation, so they are very distracting when you're trying to carry on a conversation at normal volume with a friend who is present.

Final pet peeve about cell phones: Idiots on cell phones also are not paying attention to other pedestrians and will walk straight into them. Stupid and RUDE.

roger said...

ah yes. rude and ruder. those of us not on cell phones are required to provide space for the zombies on the phone who haven't the common decency to watch where they're walking. isn't the supermarket fun nowadays, full of zombies.