Sleigh Cells Ring

I learned two important things this Christmas. One, we always make 37 more desserts than people will actually consume (I think my family single-handedly keeps the plastic “to go” container industry in business), and two, everyone is completely and hopelessly addicted to their smartphones. (This isn’t a new observation, but it has reached a level where I think it really should be addressed again.)

Just because technology gives us the means to do something doesn’t mean we should do it.

It would be easy to just dismiss this as a generational thing – teens and twentysomethings who have never known a world without 24/7 access to that world – but I see people in their 50s doing it too. I’m 47 and it wouldn’t even occur to me to bring my phone to the table and keep it right next to me while I ate mashed potatoes. People in their 50s shouldn’t be connected all the time either.

And it’s not even phone calls that these people are getting most of the time. If someone wants to keep their phones next to them because they’re expecting an important phone call, one that involves birth or death or the Mayan apocalypse, that’s fine and normal (though I think people should still have landlines). But it’s almost all texting. Everyone is always looking down and furiously texting. I’ve seen the tops of my relatives heads more in the past 5 years than I had in the previous 42. I really don’t understand why Carly Rae Jepsen’s song isn’t called “Text Me Maybe.” The actual title seems a little old-fashioned now.

Jerry Seinfeld once made a joke about how looking down at your cell phone while someone is talking to you at the table is like you holding up a magazine directly in front of your face while someone is talking to you. I agree completely. What exactly is everyone missing by not seeing what someone is posting on Facebook at that very moment? A great turkey sandwich they’re making? A picture of someone’s Christmas tree? Those things can wait until you get home, maybe, can’t they?

Can’t they?

Smartphones really are hurting our world. People are always checking them and texting and posting and sharing, and that’s never a good thing. People are always using them when a real flesh and blood person is in the room, which is a little rude. A lot of people even use them as their clocks now, which means that watches might go away some day. Wouldn’t that be sad? (Side note: what happens when there’s something wrong with a person’s cell? Do they still carry them around so they know what time it is, even though they can’t make any calls? Do they start wearing watches again? Do they go back to trying to figure out what time it is based on the angle of the sun?)

I like being disconnected. It gives my mind some breathing room. And I refuse to carry my entire life in the palm of my hand. I like separation. If I want to know what time it is, I’ll look at my wrist (or the wall). If I want to keep pictures, I’ll keep them in a photo album or on my computer. And if it’s the holiday season and I’m having dinner with family and friends and someone needs to get in touch with me, you can call me. At home. I’ll get the message – on my answering machine! – and call you back.

That’s the way it used to work. We would leave our homes – which meant actually leaving our phones too! – and go to someone else’s home or out to dinner or out to a movie, and if someone had to get in touch with us they’d call the house and talk to whoever was there or they’d call back later. Then answering machines came along and, again, we left our phones at home and if someone called us they could leave a message. We’d get the message when we got home, or if we wanted to check we’d call our homes from wherever we were and punch in a code to see if anyone called. It was amazing how few IMPORTANT calls we missed back then, wasn’t it? Now people seem to get into a panic if they miss a Facebook post about a new pair of shoes someone bought.

Having our communication devices with us all the time is supposed to be seen as progress. I’m not so sure.

The desserts were great though.

It was supposed to snow a lot last night. For the coastal area where I live I heard predictions from 1″ to 8″, which certainly covered all the bases (funny how the more weather technology improves the more meteorologists use the phrase “the amount we get depends on the track…”). Unfortunately after all was said and done we got closer to the inch. I shoveled and put down rock salt, but it took about 5 minutes and it seemed like I was just going through the motions. More of a sweeping and a chopping than a shoveling. I WANT A BLIZZARD. The kind that makes the schools close and the stores run out of shovels and local news anchors come on the air in sweaters. When that happens, you know it’s going to be a big storm.

But I guess there’s still plenty of time for snow this winter. Happy New Year! See you in 2013.

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