Now that a man has been shot to death over texting during a movie in Wesley Chapel, Fla., I'm wondering if the government control freaks on the left will push for a law against such rude social behavior.
Monday's shooting illustrates just how irritated some people can become about the breach of courtesy caused by cell phone use. It really can get out of hand. I say no law but let's start having discussions in classrooms and workplaces and homes about what's rude and what's not.
The problem is I am not sure many Americans know any better. Let's face it, all this new technology has opened a whole new list of things to consider that we didn't when we were limited to land lines in mostly private locations. Now that we have phones in our hands, we need to consider what is acceptable behavior.
Really it all comes down to the Golden Rule. Do you think people really like the glare of light from a cell phone pentetrating the darkness of a movie theater? Do you really like some chowderhead loudly conducting business at lunch when he should take it outside? Well, then don't do it yourself.
Now that I'm texting regularly, I know it has its place in day-to-day life. There are times when you just want a quick answer, or send a quick sentiment without the protracted pleasantries of "hi" and "how are you?" via voice. Besides the other person can text during quiet times or meetings without inconveniencing the other person or ourselves. But that opens up a whole set of problems, such as is texting annoying someone else? Look no farther than Monday's shooting to illustrate the point.
The average smartphone user aged 18 to 24 sends and receives 2,022 texts per month according Experian. And according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, seventh- to 12th-graders spend an average of an hour and 35 minutes a day sending or reading texts. Given the state of academics today, kids can ill afford to piddle their time that way.
Besides the loss of societal considerations, there's a price, I believe, with this instant communication. Lost productivity, for one. How many people have been killed as they texted while driving? Distracted driving aside, social and communication skills are being sacrificed. It's easier to be rude and snippy and avoid people through texting. Spelling skills decrease to texting styles. Kids - even adults, of course - have become addicted to a feeling that they need to stay connected at all times, as if the cell or smart phone was a pacemaker. And ironically in this desire for connectedness, we really become isolated and codependent.
A friend of mine related that an acquaintance of his treated his grown kids and grandkids for a Gallo play and then dinner. As they all sat around the table, grandpa expected some heart-to-heart connections with his offspring but instead every grandchild was texting the night away. Sad but sadder still that the grandkids will grow up never thinking how sad it was that they didn't get to know their grandparents when they were around. They'll have no clue what or whom they were texting weeks or months from that dinner but a conversation with grandpa might have stayed with them for life. Even sadder that the adults weren't imparted the notion of how rude they were behaving and order the cell phones to be placed away during dinner. Nobody's so important - unless you're a general or president or police chief - to stay that connected. But having said that I recently watched one state legislator texting away in the back of a room during a public event.
Several years ago, one teen who applied for a carrier position didn't impress us with his focus on texting through his interview. And it's somewhat of a shocker that Project YES in Ceres has to educate kids that it's not okay to text while you're working earning a paycheck. Are we that far gone?
If you don't text, bless your little heart. You're okay with me but some people will give you the deer in the headlights look if you let on that you don't own a cell. And some texters will make you feel dumb if you don't know what the latest acronym means.
I have similar misgivings about Facebook, which has, in a sense, become our social media newspaper. Like texting, there's no face-to-face interaction and little depth to relationships. Don't get me wrong, Facebook is a great tool to stay connected but on the other hand it's feeding a narcissistic society.
At the risk of sounding like an old grump, Facebook can be a colossal waste of time as people post things that others really could care less to read. Imagine the sympathy my 20-something FB friends get from me when they complain "I don't like getting up early to work." Who cares to hear such incessant bellyaching about life? And I really could care to see a picture of what you ate for dinner and is no doubt on its way through your digestive tract. How many hours a day do Americans waste liking and sharing FB posts? I say let the imaginary farm go fallow and use that resourcefulness to cultivate a real backyard garden that will produce real vegetables for a real stomach!
How much information is too much on FB? Apparently not much. It's almost disappointing to think of all the years we grew up without it and were deprived of updating our friends with posts like: "Doubled over with stomach flu. Barf is flowing here!"
Here's an idea: If nothing is going on in your life worth posting on FB, resist making it apparent. There is no law saying you must post every hour. Sharing other posts may be your way of saying "Hey, I'm still here" but it really becomes too much.
Then there's the posts replete with poor grammar and misspelled words, which reveals how poorly our schools seem to be doing. This is a world devoid of periods, sentences, capital words and appropriate sentence structure. Here's an example: "...I took a 9 o clock nap!...feel energized now to eat and finish erins!" Another post: "I missed place my expensive gift..."
We need to think long and hard about our own practices, ala the Golden Rule. If you get irritated because the driver in front of you doesn't realize the light turned green because they are breaking the law by reading their smartphone, then put yours away too. It can wait. If it bothers you that people over-post selfies then realize nobody wants to see yours. If it annoys you that someone in the movie theater blinded you with their phone, then resist the urge to check the buzz in your pocket, or take the phone with you to the restroom.
It's all just about common sense, which cannot be replaced by any law.
How do you feel? Let Jeff know at firstname.lastname@example.org