Friday, August 27, 2010
Rant #321: The Party Line On Cellular Phones
I hate cell phones.
No, I really don't hate cell phones, but I hate what they enable people to do, such as talk and text message on the phone while they are driving or completely ignore where they are while they are on the phone in a supermarket, or even have them go off in the middle of a movie.
Their use is potentially dangerous, but to some people, well, how could they live without them?
(Of course, they did for the first x amount of years of their lives, and they got along just fine without them.)
In my family, my daughter pretty much has her life revolving around the phone (or is it the other way around?). She does everything from it, and I guess if she enjoys that, that's good. I know she doesn't talk on the phone while driving, so I guess she is using the phone the right way.
My wife has a phone, and she uses it on occasion. She has gotten into texting, but she does not do it while behind the wheel, so I guess that's OK too.
Me, I have a cell phone, but it dates from the turn of this century and is prehistoric in terms of what it can and cannot do. I rarely ever use it.
Now we come to my son. As I told you in a previous email, he has just turned 15. He has had a few cell phones, but they were cheap and he really didn't use them the way other teenagers do.
For his 15th birthday, we bought him a really nice phone, with lots of capabilities, including the Internet. It is an AT&T Blackberry.
When we gave him the phone, I did the basics for him, like inserting the SIM card and getting it to turn on properly. Honestly, I don't know how to do anything else with these types of phones, so I left it to my wife to figure out how to make calls, how to text, etc.
But we haven't figured out how to get onto the Internet. My son likes the other features, but he is very interested in getting onto the Internet through WiFi.
The problem is that we can't figure it out. Forget about me, my wife can't figure it out either. She has read all the paperwork that comes with this thing, and she just can't figure it out. My son can't either. My daughter suggested something, but like my wife told me yesterday, "It's all Greek to me."
I guess we will have to go to our local AT&T store to get someone to explain this to us.
But to get to my point: phones are supposed to be for making calls. All this other stuff--the texting, the picture taking, the Internet--are just extras to get the price boosted on the phone and the plans that you sign up for.
Again, a phone is for making calls. With all the other stuff that you get with these phones, a new type of person has emerged, one that is so self-centered around these gadgets that they seemingly can't breathe without them. They are "phone-aholics," and they are rude, insensitive, and really don't use their brains at all.
Believe me, I've seen it up close. How many times in the supermarket are people blabbing on the phone while you are trying to maneuver around them with your cart--and they just ignore you?
How many times are you in a movie theater, and even though the audience has been asked to turn off their phones, one or two go off right in the middle of the film?
How many times are you driving, and someone is on the phone, and they are driving recklessly, as if they are in their own world?
We, as a society, let these people get away with this nonsense with little more than a slap on the wrist. Forget the supermarket or the move theater, but on the road, if I were "king," I would make any infraction revolving around using a phone while driving much more of a penalty than it is now.
What I would do is that any driving infraction involving a phone would lead to immediate loss of the phone, which would have to be picked up at the local precinct during a specific time period or be forfeited. I would also make the first fine over $1,000, and after three infractions, a person's license would be suspended for 60 days. Any further infractions could cost the person his license for a year or more.
We have to make people understand that a phone is what it is--a way to contact people. It is not a toy, and should not be used when driving.
But we live in the real world, and sorry, my dream is not going to happen.
Now, back to my son. I am sure we will get this thing figured out, but maybe it's a good thing that we don't know how to do this. It will show my son that the world, and him, can live without this nonsense just fine.
I wish other "phone-aholics" would get this too.
Posted by Larry at 3:47 AM