Most of us have grown so dependent on the Internet, cellphones and smart phones that their use borders on addiction.
Americans do that. We don’t embrace anything with reservation.
Any gathering of two or more people for lunch has its own IT department, someone with a smart phone ready to google should the conversation hang up on some elusive fact or celebrity’s name.
I annoy some friends by not having my cellphone turned on all the time. Some of them think me eccentric because I still have a “land line.”
In truth, I’ve never liked the telephone. It rings at my desk all day. When it isn’t ringing, I’m using it to call people to ask my reporter’s questions which must be annoying.
I like email. It’s quiet, and I can choose which queries to answer and which to ignore.
People who use their cellphones as though the devices were organ implants, point out, correctly, that they may choose to ignore cellphone calls. But, usually, they don’t.
We’ve become a Society of Option Takers.
There was a time when we made dates in person or over the telephone to meet for lunch or after work. We arranged bicycle rides, fishing trips, cookouts, Christmas dinner, even.
Unless we had to cancel, we didn’t speak again until we all showed up, miraculously, in the same place at the same time.
Cellphones and email devices allow us the “freedom” to change our plans at the press of a few buttons.
But that freedom can be a burden. In trying to accommodate everyone in our lives, we satisfy no one, especially ourselves.
For children born after cellphones, mom and dad have always been in a pants pocket, purse or knapsack. What is privacy to a generation that slept with a television camera hooked to the crib?
Some of my friends have evolved backward to typing out their thoughts in bursts of words sent electronically. Texting is good, I’m told, because it’s less intrusive. It doesn’t bother other people in coffee shops, restaurants and supermarket checkout lines.
I like the little aural glimpses one gets from people speaking at volume into their cellphones. It seems a great way to stay riled up.
A blogger for the Washington Post, who went a week without the Internet, worried that he’d let people down. What if his wife wanted him to pick up something at the supermarket?
Instead, he found going offline liberating. He went so far as not to answer all of his cellphone calls. It was his way of telling the world to just shut up.
Surveys have found that people feel depressed and lonely when they can’t go online. Some people compare the withdrawal to that of quitting drinking or smoking.
When I’m on vacation, I happily forego the Internet and email. My cellphone, which is usually turned off, stays off unless I use it to find my wife in the giant outlet clothing store.