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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Why not just make a freaking phone call?
Posted by Jill | 6:58 AM

The smartphones that people use for texting are PHONES. That means that you can, in most cases, set a voice command to call a number: "Home". "Jackie." "Bob." "Tony's Pizza."

Talking on the phone while driving, even with a handsfree set, is distracting enough. I've had to attend teleconferences while driving Mr. Brilliant to chemotherapy. I don't like to do it, and I usually say at the outset that I am on to listen, but I probably won't speak. This is because my handsfree earpiece has no mute button, and the screen of the phone is difficult to see in the morning sun. I've reached a point now where I just don't attend, because it is just too much to focus on while driving down an already-treacherous Garden State Parkway at rush hour -- and because Mr. Brilliant has a habit of forgetting that I am on a teleconference and yelling "Asshole!" at other drivers (who really are). But one thing I never, ever do is text while driving.

I don't see how anyone can text while driving. I have a hard time with the tiny keyboard when I am sitting in my house. But I can always tell the texters. They're the ones crossing the line to the left, and then to the right, and back again. They're the ones who slow down from 65 down to 50 for no reason. They're the ones who realize at the last minute that they are close to their exit and cross four lanes of traffic in a quarter mile. They're the ones who don't bother to even slow down coming out of side streets. The handset-talkers aren't much better, and despite stiff fines in New Jersey, not a day goes by that I don't see someone yakking on a hand-held phone.

I don't know why people need this constant communication. I realize I don't have as large a social circle as some people do, but unless there is some kind of dire emergency, why do we need to be talking or texting 24 hours a day? When we are going to the supermarket, why do we need to be on the phone constantly? What is so urgent that it can't wait ten minutes?

It isn't just while driving, either. My employer is about to move us to an "open concept" workspace building, and the thing I dread most about it, other than losing my 30-second zone-out "power naps" when I have been working till 11:30 PM for fifteen straight days and am so sleep-deprived that I can hardly see (another road risk, I might add...), is the damn cell phones. Already, people set their ringtones to "LOUD" so that when they leave their desks to get coffee, they can hear it and run back. Why they don't take the phones with them, I have no idea. One colleague has a husband who calls her at least every hour. If he can't get her on her office phone, he'll call her cell phone. And he will do this every five minutes until she answers the phone. It's going to be horrible.

I use texting more than I used to, but I never use it in the car, and if for some reason I need to make a phone call, I pull over to the side of the road. I've been dealing with crises for nearly a solid year, between my mother's last illness in September 2012, her death, and then only ten weeks later, Mr. Brilliant's diagnosis and treatment. There have been hospitals, trips to my sister's to clean out and organize, driving and driving and driving; communicating what's going on, and trying to juggle work through the whole thing. And not once have I needed to send a text message while driving. So who on earth do all these people need to text and drive? Or call and drive? Can't we wait ten minutes for anything anymore?

The film above, directed by Werner Herzog, will be shown in over 40,000 high schools. It should make a difference. But it won't. Because we are too fucking busy insisting that our right to do anything we want outweighs anyone else's right to live. We see it with guns. And we're going to see it with texting. Because in our devolution from a society in which people look out for each other into one the motto of which is "I Got Mine And Fuck You", we are no longer able to look past our own noses.

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Anonymous D. said...

Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...
There's a desire to multi-task and conserve time so that driving to and from work/store/school becomes just another chore as oppossed to a potentially risky endeavor which results in 1000 deaths (here in Illinois a year).

Anonymous Syrbal/Labrys said...
I don't have a fancy phone...an old iPhone 4 doesn't do voice commands, and my 10 year old vehicle has no hands free aids. So I don't use the phone while driving at all.

Like you, I wonder why people need to be in constant contact and I hate texting because my semi-numbed finger tips find that tiny 'keyboard' agonizing to use. I can't manage the itsy bitsy on/off/volume on bluetooth earpieces either.

My state makes phone use (unless hands free) and texting illegal; yet never have had a driving day w/o some nitwit going slowly side to side on the road doing one of the two. Or reading a newspaper on the steering wheel. Or applying eye make up in the mirror at 60 mph. It's not "Innocents Abroad" on America's roads....it's IDIOTS.

Blogger The New York Crank said...
While we're on the topic, texting while walking is a runner up on the pyramid of new technological hazards. I've seen people wade into Manhattan traffic without looking right or left because they're involved with their telescreens. They jaywalk blindly, bump into people, delay elevators and generally burn my butt.

Sorry, truly, to hear about your own problems. Just take care not to text about them.

Very crankily yours,
The New York Crank

Anonymous Charlie O said...
Couldn't agree more Jill. Being close in age (I'm 54), I don't understand this need to be in constant communication, 24/7. I don't text at all if possible. My personal phone has texting blocked, with my company provided Iphone, I text only if someone texts me first. If I need to contact someone for business reasons, I call or send an email. One of my cars has a nice bluetooth setup in it. But I never initiate calls when I'm driving, but I will answer one. I prefer to have phone conversations while sitting in the my recliner at home. Not walking through the grocery store or driving traffic. I'll take a call, but 95% of the time tell the caller I'll call them back when I'm damn good and ready to talk. I also don't tweet or have a facebook account. My life is mine and no one else needs the detail. And I don't care what everyone is up to. Don't care what you bought, don't care where or what you ate last. It's all mindless drivel.