Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Mother of All Anti-Cell Phone Rants

My brother-in-law and I were talking, while en route from cottage country, about our increasing agnosticism about technologies. He offered a somewhat bizarre and sad anecdote about a hockey-watching party he recently attended (this is Canada, after all) in which two young men arrived and proceed to sit on the couch, with everyone else, attention glued to their "smartphones" the entire night. They did not actually interact with the other people at the party; however, they did occasionally check the game scores- on their smartphones, instead of on the television set in front of them.

Admittedly, I'm no fan of cell phones, smart or dumb. At one point, I intended to write an epic rant about the things; I made it to 32 pages of vitriol comparing them to the poison poured in ears in Hamlet, and finally lost interest. Luckily for me, Jason Peters has written the mother of all rants about cell phones. Here's a taste:
"But none of these things, whether tool or machine, is as sinister as the cell phone. What is it about this repellent little gadget that so abominates, that so offends the imagination?

It has destroyed manners. It has destroyed public space. It has compromised privacy. It has enslaved and mastered those who think themselves its master. It has transferred money from insurance companies to body shops. It has turned bitching into a spectator sport, and I won’t be at all surprised if it turns out to be the cause of an epidemic of brain tumors.

But what troubles me the most is that it has taken distraction to a new low, and distraction, as the sage of Kentucky says, is “inimical to true discipline.” Forget that students can’t sit through a lecture without going in search of vibrating, buzzing, or blinking evidence that they’re still the center of the universe. Actual adults behave in exactly this manner.

Where has sustained concentration gone? Wither is fled the visionary gleam?

Wither? I’ll tell you wither. Into the hand that goes into the pocket that pulls out the poison, the poison that first afflicts the mind and at last blasts the earth whence it came–whence it came benign ere man converted and co-joined and assembled it into a tiny little tyrant.

I know of people—I see them every day—who have no clue that they live in the world. In the world! Yesterday, after several cold gray days here in the Midwest, the sun finally came out to set all the changing sugar maples ablaze with a golden resplendent light. And what were Mackenzie and Dylan and Jordan and Khrystynah doing? Not noticing the surface brilliance, that’s for sure. They were texting away. Meanwhile Nature, that vast unity of images, that unity not of things but of images, went unregarded.

In the time it took me to pass an undergraduate on the sidewalk yesterday I heard her misuse the word “like” nine times in a narrative that had at its center passing out during a movie (man’s third biggest mistake) but waking up in time to puke—all of this yammered, for all to hear, into a device that, mark me, would have been sowing brain tumors had there been a brain affixed thereto in which to sow them.

This insidious device does not encourage silence. It does not encourage reflection. It does not encourage editing. It does not encourage anything useful to us or good for us. It is a mistake. Do you hear me? A mistake."

Read on. It is pretty righteous ranting, and damned funny too! Fair? Not entirely. But, damned funny nonetheless.

More here.

3 comments:

The Pagan Temple said...

I have an idea that woman in the picture spends a hell of a lot of time on hers.

Rufus said...

Actually, I think that was a picture that came up when I googled "cell phone" and "asshole".

jake li said...


good post beautifull



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