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Commentary by William Carter: Sick and tired.

“Hello,” he says, holding a finger up in my direction and his cell phone to his ear in what has become the Universal Gesture for:  ‘I’m going to put our face-to-face conversation on hold because there is no way you’re as important as this phone call. But I’m so important, there’s no question you will forgive me for being a jerk so you just stand there and spend your time—which, by the way, I’m pretty confident is not as valuable as my time—watching how rude I am until I hang up and offer a fake apology or, more than likely, no apology at all, for treating you like less than a human being’.

Only moments before, this guy—a used-to-be best friend I hadn’t seen since 30-something years before when both of us owned “Keep On Truckin’” t-shirts and rocked out to Lynyrd Skynyrd on 8-track as we sped down Highway 19 in his ’77 T-Bird on our way to W.W. Fast Foods to throw quarters at the Asteroids machine—and I were having a good time insulting each other; me about his tripled girth and he about my tri-focals and absence of hair.
 
Then his phoned hummed in his hand and, instantly, without even looking to see whom the call might be from, he held that imperious finger up in my direction.  
 
I responded by holding one of my very own fingers up in another, much older, Universal Gesture that needs no explanation, then walked away; fully aware I had overreacted but not caring because I am really and truly very sick and very tired of cell phones and smart phones and social media and all of the other digital (insert expletive here) that we’ve been brainwashed into believing are making our lives better.
 
If you’re expecting yet another rant from me about the evils of modern technology, you’re right.  This will be my last one, though, I promise, because even I’m smart enough to realize my whining will do nothing to expose the myth that instant and constant communication—as well as the ability to tote 80,000 songs around in your pocket or fling cartoon birds at cartoon pigs—is just the first step towards a giant, fuzzy hug for all humanity.  
 
Besides, just like the rest of y’all I am hypocritical as hell because I’m typing this on my lap-top, which I love, and the only way anyone is going to take it away is by prying it from my cold, dead hands.
 
Let’s just all accept, right now, that whenever our cell phones ring or moan or burble or fart or whatever leash our devices use to tug us into the digital realm and away from the flesh and blood world, we are absolutely under no obligation to respond. Seriously. No, I’m not kidding…you will NOT be stabbed in the eyeball by some guy from Verizon if you don’t answer your phone.
 
We also all need to understand that of the 900 billion cell phone calls made in this country alone last year (yeah, I Googled it…sue me), only eleven of those calls were important (I made that up. It sounds right, though), and exactly zero of the important ones were made by or to anyone I know.
 
Furthermore, probably one of the more insidious side effects of the advent of smart phones is the proliferation of pork-pie hats. Just about every commercial I see pushing smart phones these days features some young girl dancing wildly to a tune on her new device or a two-days unshaven hipster dude looking all pensive about how he’s going to change the world because he just spent four-hundred dollars on a chunk of plastic while wearing one of those damned hats.  
 
Here’s an observation from an old, bald guy who HAS to wear a hat because he doesn’t want to offend the rest of the community with the sight of his scabby, liver-spotted scalp:  Pork-pie hats are stupid and you don’t look hip wearing one…you just look like you realized the only cool guy you know wears one and, pathetically, you want to be like him.  And, by the way, that neck tattoo isn’t cool either.
 
On a serious note, though, people are literally dying, every day, on our roads because of idiots who think they’re capable of sending text messages or watching YouTube while operating a two ton vehicle traveling at sixty miles-an-hour and we, collectively, don’t have the guts to call these idiots criminals. Anyone caught texting while driving should be treated as if they’re child molesters or, at the very least, as if they’re driving under the influence…no exceptions.
 
That’s my rant…and I’m sticking to it.
 
Keep on truckin’, y’all.            
   
William Carter is a longtime Franklin city employee and published author.  He may be contacted at 
 

Posted on: 10/10/2013

 
 

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