I realize each decade has its thing.
In the 1950s it was sexy to smoke like Charles Bronson, especially if you were a woman attending card club. In the 1960s, it was Beatlemania and fallout shelters, while the 1970s saw a preponderance of 8-track tapes (I still own a Chicago 8-track) and pet rocks. The ’80s, my favorite, introduced the onslaught of those hideous/adorable Cabbage Patch dolls, mullets and Nintendo. Fashions were a Rubik’s Cube of ugliness. The ’90s, though, is when we stopped talking to each other and began communicating via cell phones and computers. Sure, it looked like you were yelling into your shoe with the first “bag phones” but it was like magic.
And, here we are today.
I was food shopping yesterday and this is, without exaggeration, my most dreaded task of the week, and that includes having to clean a toilet replete with sprinklings which are never my own. But, I use the time to meditate while perusing the asparagus and spaghetti sauce I pass off as my own. I’ve decided to use these occasions for my time of “om.” As I strolled down Pasta Alley, making a right onto Coffee Court, I looked down the aisle and noticed every, single shopper was talking on a cell phone. I was stupefied. There went my “om.”
I’m certain everyone was speaking loudly into their devices in the beverage aisle of Gerrity’s because there was a cornucopia of emergencies, right?
Here’s what I heard: 1. “Do you want decaf or regular? Really? Regular’s on sale. And I have a coupon. If you want decaf you’ll just have to stop at Dunkin’ in the morning. Don’t yell at me…”
2. “So I said to him: If you get that drunk again at a children’s birthday party and hit on another mother, I swear to God, I will hit you over the head with a shovel. And he says to me: I wouldn’t have to hit on another mother if you would just …”
3. “Yes, yes, the colonoscopy is tomorrow. I’m shopping for more chicken broth. I should start to (poop) any minute now! I hope they have a public restroom. No, no, I can keep talking …”
I talk on my cell all the time. Not in public stores. Not when I’m driving. Not when I’m cleansing for a colonoscopy. We’ve become a generation of androids where our every move is dictated by a device the size of a hamster. As our children are being born with no appendix or wisdom teeth due to the mysteries of evolution, I envision the next generation being born with enormous thumbs and hands permanently held in front of their tiny faces, clicking spontaneously.
I saw a posse of children disembarking from a school bus and almost every child held a phone. No one looked at each other. It was sad. I don’t watch “The Walking Dead,” but the constant parade of disinterested, monotone cell-phone addicts looks very much like what I expect a zombie apocalypse to resemble. But with better shoes.
We’re priming our children to lack basic social skills because we insist on obnoxiously bellowing into a phone while shopping for soup. We’re driving and talking and texting and dying on the roadways because the conversation involving nothing can’t wait until we get home.
Here’s a fascinating fact: Humans lived pretty successfully without the accoutrements of a cell phone for about a hundred years. Truly. Grocery shopping got done, driving was just driving and miraculously, we all went to the bathroom without an accompanying game of Candy Crush to pass the time.
Let’s make a resolution for 2016. Oh. Wait. Hold on; my phone is chirping. It’s an emergency! Nancy needs coffee! Decaf! Well, this is awkward …
Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three, a librarian and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life.