Sunday, December 03, 2006

Be Careful What You Wish For...

I am an unashamed Trekkie; not a 'Trekker.' Old School, although that jargon may itself be Old School already. I watched Roddenberry's creation on a monochrome television, and though the bridge of the Enterprise was filled with knobs and dials and switches, there was marvelous technology awaiting us!

Transporters! Phasers! Tricorders! And, of course, the Communicator! Whip that little beauty out of your pocket, flip it open, and with that electronic chirrup, you could call anybody around the world, or in orbit!

They are now, of course, ubiquitous. We call them cell phones, and besides allowing us to place a call anywhere around the world - or in orbit! - they also incorporate some of the features of the bigger Tricorder. Search out databases on the Web; take pictures and movies,
take notes and write text , plan your schedule, and transmit them anywhere. Have we not arrived?

The problem is, we didn't realize just how banal most conversations are. Occasionally we noticed someone ranting loudly at a partitioned pay phone kiosk; but normally, the conversations were hidden behind the walls of a house, or enclosed in a phone booth. Now, the asylum's doors have been flung wide, and generally insipid or strident pratter beseiges us on all sides.

Conversation whose boring details occupied tea parties around the kitchen table or cases of Schaeffer around the barbecue now besiege us on every sidewalk, in grocery store aisles, and at he table next to us at KFC. Once upon a time we would have judged these people talking to the atmosphere hands-free as ready for the institution, or at least, a round of psychotropic medications. 'So I told Maggie that Susie's ballet teacher had actually never taught a class of eight-year olds before, but you know how Maggie is, her little Betty won the Prancing Puff award three years ago, and now there's no talking to her...' Arguing animatedly about the MVP and inductees into the NFL Hall of Fame is an acceptable excuse for running a red light and nearly, obliviously, side-swiping me?!?

But you can't stop progress, can you?

Teachers are in a quandary; the little darlings need to be available for emergency contacts, and spend their time texting each other about who's hot, sweet, and burnt, and those of use who would like to actually listen to the dialogue at the movies need to be prepared to whine to the management or obnoxiously challenge the miscreants to shut their bloody pie holes. Because they attend as well to pre-preview entreaties on the screen to be polite as well as they oney laws about not driving while holding their cells in hand. Civility, in a word, is dead.

There are countermeasures available, although few people seem willing to avail themselves of them. After all, there are emergencies! and this is the Twenty-First Century, and I am an Olde Phart. Still, I can't help but wonder:

Did Bones ever text Spock: "U grn blded Vlkn freek! Beem this up ur @$$!"


At 1:34 AM, Blogger Roger Owen Green said...

So, you DO exist.


Post a Comment

<< Home