Posts Tagged With: texting

Texting and Survival of the Fittest

Rapid City has just imposed a ban on texting while driving. This is probably a good thing, but for me it comes a little late. I have already been run over by someone who was texting.

The incident was clearly not my fault. I wasn’t doing anything life-threatening like running into traffic or crossing the street at a corner. I was right where a good law-abiding pedestrian ought to be: on the sidewalk.

Of course, so was the woman who ran over me. Did I mention that she wasn’t in a car at the time? She was walking.

I saw her coming a block away. She wasn’t a kid, but she was young; maybe in her 30’s. She was walking down the sidewalk toward me, along with a man about her age and a teenage girl. The three of them, of course, took up the whole sidewalk. Not a problem. I assumed they would do the polite pedestrian thing and drop into single file while we passed each other. As we drew closer, I did my part by moving to the right, so I was walking on the edge of my side of the sidewalk.

I could see that the woman was looking at her phone, but I assumed she was also paying some attention to her surroundings. Silly me.

Just as we were about to meet, the girl veered off to her right and headed across the street. The woman finally glanced up from her phone as she turned to say something to the girl.

And that’s when she hit me. Her elbow got me right in the solar plexus, which was uncomfortable as well as surprising.

What was equally surprising to me was how surprised the woman was. She had been so focused on her phone that she had no idea I was mere inches away from her until she ran over me. Her “radar,” that warning sense we have when someone approaches our personal space, was totally disengaged.

I’m sure that warning sense has been crucial in helping humans survive all kinds of predators and evolve into the technologically advanced beings we are today. But as we continue to evolve, I’m not sure where our technology will take us. This woman was so completely unaware of her surroundings that she was at serious risk. A mountain lion would have considered it poor sportsmanship to grab her.

She didn’t apologize for running over me, either. Possibly because she was still focused on her phone—in dismay, this time. When she hit me, she had dropped it onto the sidewalk, where it exploded into several pieces.

I couldn’t find it in my heart to feel the least bit sorry.

Categories: Living Consciously, Odds and Ends | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Can You Hear Me Now?

Alexander Graham Bell's first telephone conversation was supposedly brief: "Mr. Watson, come here. I want you!"

Not many people know this, but the reason he got off the line so quickly was that one of his kids was hovering nearby, hopping up and down and making urgent gestures, waiting to use the phone. The inseparability of teenagers and telephones has been a cliché of adolescence ever since.

Except for those of us who grew up with party lines. My family's farm was one of several that shared a phone line. Each household had its own unique combination of long and short rings, but all the phones rang whenever any family got a call. This meant anyone on the line could (and sometimes did) listen to anyone else's conversations.

Sometimes this was inadvertent—if you picked up the phone to make a call and someone else was using it, you couldn't help but overhear a few words. At other times it was deliberate listening in. This, for some reason I haven't been able to find, was called "rubbering."

On some party lines, certain people (okay, certain women) had the reputation, deserved or not, for always listening in. My mother and my grandmothers, having plenty of other things to do, weren't among them. There may have been a few people who did listen all the time, although I doubt that many of the conversations were all that interesting. After all, everyone knew it was a party line, which provided a strong incentive to be circumspect.

I used to hate it when my boyfriend would call. Not because I didn't want to talk to him, but because I worried that he might say too much. Living in town and not being used to a party line, he hadn't been trained to automatically censor his conversations with eavesdroppers in mind. Not, I hasten to point out, that we ever said (or did, for that matter) anything particularly shocking, illegal, or even interesting. Still, the idea that neighbors who had known me since I was born might be listening tended to keep the conversations both brief and discreet.

As phone technology developed, party lines were phased out. Ironically, though, as technology continues to change with cell phones and the Internet, we may be coming back to communal communication. A conference call, after all, is nothing but the equivalent of a party line—the only difference being that everyone knows who else is on the line.

And with cell phones, people are once again having phone conversations in the company of uninvited listeners. The difference is that the listeners aren't choosing to pick up the phone and "rubber in." Their involvement is involuntary, and if they don't want to hear the conversation they can't just hang up.

Thank goodness at least for texting. It not only protects the privacy of the callers, but it protects innocent bystanders from being a party to their conversations.

The Internet, too, is really nothing but an enormous, international party line. You can say anything you want to there. It's always wise, however, to remember that you never know who might be listening.

Categories: Remembering When | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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