Reading time ( words)
Editor's Note: To listen to Dan's weekly column, as you've always done in the past, click here. For the written transcript, keep reading...What’s up with the phones? Have these things completely taken over our lives? Wherever you go people are fiddling with their phones. People are texting and reading e-mails or checking the weather or seeing how their team is doing--these phones have completely taken over our lives.Remember when airports and waiting rooms were nice quiet places where you could read a book or a magazine, or have a nice quiet chat? Those were the good old days. Now these former sanctuaries of silence have been taken over by people loudly talking non-stop on their phones. And the conversations run from the banal like, "Well, I have a three-hour layover so I thought I'd talk to you. What are you doing?” to unbelievably personal, “So, when I caught him in bed with that tramp I said that’s it! I don’t care if we have six kids!” Don’t they realize that we can hear them? Hell, they can be heard three gates down! Then there are the people who have to give whoever is on the other end of the line a play-by-play of what they’re doing: “I’m boarding now; I’m in my seat now. Hi, we’ve just landed, I’ll call you when I get to baggage claim, okay?” Why? Who cares?I once saw a women walk into a restaurant at 4:00 a.m. in Greenville, Maine. She had one of those stupid Bluetooth ear things and was talking away on it--4:00 a.m. in Greenville, Maine, who was she talking to?I was once on a plane across the aisle from a young woman who was frantically calling what seemed like hundreds of people to tell them she was going to be in the air for the next four hours. Seriously, one call after another as fast as she could dial saying, “Hi, it’s me. I’m on the plane and I’m going to be out of touch for the next four hours, I’ll call you when I land.” Really, one after another until the flight attendant had to practically pull the phone out of her hand! And I can tell you from the looks of her she wasn’t Hillary Clinton or Condoleezza Rice.I look back on those quieter days as the good old days because now it’s worse by far. Now you can do everything on these phones--they are running our lives. People are not even bothering to shut them off any more. I was at a lecture recently and there were about 600 people in the audience. The lecturer was just about to make a vital point when a cell phone started playing a “We Are the Champions” ring tone. It was the lecturer’s phone and he stopped and looked to see who was calling! He was actually wondering if he should answer it! What the hell could have been more important in his life at that time than delivering his lecture in front of 600 people who had paid $75 to be there?Have you been in a meeting lately where people did not have their cell phones on? Have you been talking to someone only to watch them fool around with their phones while supposedly listening to you? They’re actually reading their e-mails while holding a conversation with you. What are they thinking? Frankly, I take it personally, like they’re saying to me, “Hey, keep on talking if you want, I’m just checking to see if I can find something more interesting than you to pay attention to.”Then there’s the texting. How can someone be talking to you and texting at the same time? How can that be? And what’s that about anyway? Maybe it's something like, “I want to tell you something, but I don’t want to have to talk to you so I’ll text you.” Isn’t that the Great Uncle of the old trick of making a phone call when you’re pretty sure the person is not going to be there because you just want to leave a message anyway? Remember that? We all did it, and then the person answered, “Oh, you’re there? I thought you were out. I was just going to leave a message." Like that made a lot of sense.Are we going to calm down about this? Is this going to get any better? It can’t get any worse. What do we all have to say to each other? What is so interesting on our e-mail? Why do we have to check the weather 20 times a day…in Tokyo? Are we so bored with life that we’re always looking for something more interesting than what we’re doing right now? And, to those of us sending all this information out, do we really think that we’re so damn interesting that people want to know that “we’re getting a haircut now?” Or that “we’re at the pro shop buying a new glove right now?” Are we really that vain? Do we really think anybody cares what we’re doing?I really don’t know where it’s all going, but I will tell you this: It’s getting worse all the time. And I have to admit it’s scaring the heck out of me especially when I catch myself doing it too. I’ve noticed that in the last month since I got my new iPhone I’ve been fiddling around with it just like everyone else. Yes, I admit it, I am guilty as charged, everything I’ve complained about I’ve started doing.
But I am going to stop as of today. I promise to only make a phone call when it needs to be made; I will turn off my phone during meetings and I mean the whole phone baby, not just the sound. And I’m only going to check my e-mails set times of the day. That’s my New Year’s resolution, and I mean it too. Oh, but one more time, “I’ve finished my column now and I’m going to go watch football for a while.”It’s only common sense.