In a Cell Because of a Cell

May 13th, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

We seemingly infinitely programmable humanoids do get the hang of technologies, or rather get hung on them. As a long-term, pre-GUI computer users, I occasionally still chuckle at myself when I notice how mouse-dependent I am.

That’s true of nearly all of us, but I came from keyboard shortcut and dedicated keypad days before there were desktop mice. What the computer press used to call power users were much faster and more efficient than mousing around screens. With such exceptions as drafting programs and layout applications like FrameMaker, a mouse is essential. I’ve been programmed.


On the other hand, I’m still master of the telephone, handset or cell. My phones work for me; I don’t work for them.

At the all too common extreme, many of us have lost a grip on that and let phones run us. The too-dumb-to-walk-and-talk crowd is generally amusing that way, particularly when they run into each other or fixed objects blathering into their cells about what store they just left or what cereal they are about to put in the cart. They are in the pacifier — or more aptly in the British term dummy — stage, unable to be alone with their wee thoughts.

That is less amusing when they’re driving and do not realize they don’t have the bandwidth to pay attention with their eyes and one ear at the same time. Pity humans don’t share one trait with computers, the slots for RAM upgrades.

Those are just mundane stupidities. The true oddment is how many assume everyone is as cell-enslaved as they. These are the many who:

  • Interrupt a face-to-face conversation to take (or worse make) a cell call. That’s on a par with the old crassness of putting someone on hold when you hear a call-waiting beep.
  • Hop up from a meal and conversation because the phone rings. The likelihood of something requiring immediate feedback is surely 99+% for nearly all of us non-cardiac surgeon types.
  • Call people only on their cell number, assuming they are dependent as you.

I lost track of the number of times I’ve told my sister, dentist and others that I only have my cell phone on me when I am out of the house. They also have heard to leave a message if I don’t answer because (let’s say it together) my cell phone works for me; I don’t work for it.

It’s only gotten worse with the looming ubiquity of cell phones. I don’t see any stop to it. People continue to career into each other on foot, in cars and even on bicycles and motorcycles pretending they can pay attention to a phone call and mobility simultaneously. Forget what Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have told you — humans delude themselves when the swear they are multi-taskers.

When someone in front of me answers a cell call, I’m out of there. If they put the phone on the table at a restaurant, I tell them to put it away until we finish. I’m convinced that paying attention or using the New Age version of being in the moment almost surely provides far greater return than letting your cell phone rob you of what attention you have left to parcel among people.

Moreover, if you really think your incoming and outgoing cell calls are worth ignoring palpable humans or traveling inattentively, keep a few notebook pages. Jot down what you heard and said in rough form. Then in a day or two scan your crucial conversation content. It might be enough to let your voice mail do its job and let you engage with the real world.


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