The fourth in my series of posts in which I give rants against trends that have developed in society since the days of my youth, the halcyon days of the seventies, when leisure suits and disco were sure signs that society was ready to be engulfed in a tide of ignorance, bad taste and general buffoonery.
We have started off the series with a look at seven developments that I view as intensely annoying and proof that many people lack the sense that God granted a goose. I like to refer to these as The Seven Hamsters of the Apocalypse, minor evils that collectively illustrate a society that has entered a slough of extreme stupidity. Each of the Seven Hamsters will have a separate post. We have already discussed here the Tattooed Vermin, here the Pierced Vermin and here the F-Bomb Vermin. The fourth of the Hamsters is the Texting Vermin.
When I was a lad there was only one means of communicating from one’s home other than being a ham radio operator or opening a window and shouting through it. I of course refer to the good old basic black rotary telephone. For viewers too young to have personal experience of such things, please watch this video:
Back in those days almost all homes had only one phone, if they had a phone at all. A mobile phone was a phone with a very long phone cord so that you could take it with you as you walked around your house (no joke). Many telephone users were on “party lines” which meant that several households were on the same phone line. They were indeed “party lines” for gossips who would silently wait to eavesdrop on conversations. A long distance call, especially across international boundaries, was an adventure, and very much a hit or miss proposition. Voice quality was often poor and sometimes filled with static. As a result, men and boys tended not to spend much time on the phone. As a matter of fact, I am hard-pressed to recall any conversation that my father had on the phone that lasted much beyond three minutes. Of course he came by that naturally, as his father, who raised a family of six kids on what a shoemaker could make in Paris, Illinois during the Great Depression, viewed phones as an unnecessary expense, and my paternal grandmother finally got a phone only after his death. Phone use in my family was chiefly done by my Mom who liked talking on the phone as much as my father disliked talking on the phone. Perhaps this was because, as my Mom confided to me on several occasions, women like to gab a lot have frequent intellectually stimulating discussions.
Of course there were predictions at the time as to what the telephones of the future would be like. Here is a video produced by the Post Office Research Labs in the United Kingdom in the 1960s showing what the brave new world of telecommunication in the 1990s would be like:
Little did we dream at the time that future technology would lead to hordes of people walking around with Star Trek like cell phones seemingly surgically implanted in their hands.
Strangely enough, these cell phone addicts wish to share with the rest of us their conversations, judging from the ever increasing number of individuals I have encountered in public places having “private” conversations at the top of their lungs with their cell phones. Driving of course takes on an added element of adventure as cell phone using drivers careen through heavy traffic, their minds of course totally focused on the road.
Texting addiction takes cell phone addiction to a whole new level.
Driving while texting is such a truly stupid thing to do, that it amazes me that even an addict would do it, but apparently texting while at the wheel is increasingly common and causing ever more collisions. One could argue that this is Darwinian evolution at work, if the texters were not taking non-texters out of this world with them.
PSAs against texting have been deployed with little impact:
The Brits have produced an especially graphic psa on the subject:
Alas, I suspect that gore bespattered anti-texting screeds will have as little impact on most of the current generation as the bloody anti-drinking and driving films had on most of my compatriots four decades ago in driver’s ed. Laws against texting while driving have thus far apparently proven ineffective, and it is theorized that the texters, more concerned with concealing their texting in states which have banned it behind the wheel than mere survival, are continuing to text surreptitiously while driving and thus increasing the number of collisions. Laws can punish but they cannot supply common sense.
Continual cell phone and texting use demonstrates how far modern society has gotten away from meaningful communication and to a ceaseless babel the purpose of which appears to be to prevent us being alone with our thoughts as little as possible. In my office I have a copy of a prayer written by Saint Thomas More. It begins:
Give me the grace, Good Lord
To set the world at naught. To set my mind firmly on Thee and not to hang upon the words of men’s mouths.
To be content to be solitary.
Now most of us are content never to be solitary and we wish ever to hang upon the words of men’s mouths.
However, perhaps I am being too harsh. After all, it isn’t as if the texting addicts deliberately attempt to make public displays of themselves. That of course bring us to the Trashy Vermin. Alas, I have been advised that my oatmeal and boiled carrots are getting cold. Until next time.
(Hattip to my daughter, the Designated Texter for the McClarey family, who snapped the above photo of the elusive Texting Vermin.)