Publisher Larry Tobin's Ups-N-Downs column in the Aug. 22 Tomahawk Leader
There is no doubt in my mind that the single most significant instrument of rude behavior employed by mankind since the digital gesture is the cell phone! Now, in itself, the cell phone has many valued uses, just as does the middle finger on the human hand. It’s the lack of consideration employed by people who use them that cause the problems.
Yes, everyone in my family has a cell phone. Mine is shut off most of the time. I got one originally for use in emergencies and while at my cabin. The only people who have the number, generally, are my family and the people at our office. They know it’s to be used only in emergencies.
I also used to use my first cell phone – a bag phone – when I went out West. Now, however, since the switch to digital systems that has been mandated, when my bag phone died I had to buy a small hand-held version. It does not have near the power that the bag phone did and it’s virtually useless in the areas where I spend most of my time out West.
Everyone hears about the abuses of cell phones while people are driving and those abuses are many. I’ve seen people with a cell phone stuck into their ear with one hand while trying to manipulate a soda or Big Mac with the other – and trying to drive at the same time. I’ve also seen people weaving all over the road (and off of it) and at speeds varying 10 miles either side of the legal limit while chit-chatting with someone via cell phone.
But the rudeness goes well beyond the automobile. It’s incredibly rude, I think, to be in a public place where at least a reasonable quiet is normally expected and have someone’s cell phone ring. I’ve been to weddings and funerals where the cell phone has rung during the ceremony.
I also think it’s obnoxious when you go to a restaurant for an evening out and someone’s phone is constantly ringing. My wife, Kathy, and I were at one of the Northwoods’ better restaurants awhile back where a man and two women were seated at a table nearby. For more than an hour as we sat there, the man talked on his cell phone, totally ignoring the women he was with. If he had been with me, it would have lasted about 10 minutes and I would have asked to be seated at another table – without him!
There have been times when I’ve heard someone speaking and thought the person was addressing me. When I turned around, it was just someone talking on a cell phone. Once I was shopping in a local grocery store (I do that a lot for my wife and me) when a guy walked in ahead of me who was talking on his cell phone. I encountered him all over the store as I shopped and again after I checked out. He never hung up. You could hear him, it seemed, over most of the store.
That’s another bone of contention. It seems like people who use cell phones in public places automatically go deaf. Apparently they can’t hear half of what’s said on the other end of the conversation so they naturally think that person can’t hear them either. They naturally turn up their own volume.
Cell phones are great for keeping track of where your children are, that I will grant you. However, I don’t think every kid needs a cell phone. When kids are calling their friends between classes in school all the time, it’s just plain ridiculous.
When six-year-olds have cell phones and get three calls (in a public place while with their mothers) in 15 minutes, that’s ridiculous.
Like I said, cell phones have their place (and it’s not often in public) and value. Many people have dropped their land line phones, which I also may do someday. But when you’re in a public place or driving, shut the things off. You’ll make the world a kinder, gentler place in the long run.