Cellphones Are The New Cigarettes

Housecoat Diaries


One of the fundamentals of the housecoated world is a dedicated resistance to dropping everything just because the telephone rings.

Why does that little ringtone gain precedence over whatever else is happening at the time? I think there should be a code programmed into the phone system that triggers random calls to people that say, ďJust chill out, dude, nothingís happening. Itís all good. Go back to what you were doing.Ē Actually, one of my favorite things to do is to call someone up and just say, ďOkay, Iíll talk to you later.Ē

I am not a fan of phones. I find them to be irritating and only an occasionally justifiable necessity, not unlike stop signs on country roads and warning labels on cigarettes. In fact, as long as Iím mentioning smokes, I believe that cellphones are the new cigarette: hot little cancer-causing friends for your fingers and your lips, something to feel important and sexy with when youíre all alone.

The telephone, arguably the greatest Canadian invention of all time next to Tim Hortonís, was a good idea to begin. But much like Timmy Hoís, it got weird somewhere along the way. When there was just a few of them around, you felt like you were onto something special. Now youíre just perpetually being told by a robotic voice that youíre important so shut up and wait your turn.

I like talking to people ďlive and in person,Ē as they say, and Iím exceptionally reminded of that whenever I have to deal with a call centre helpline. It always seems that Iím on hold during so much of the conversation that I may as well be talking to myself anyway. Or worse, how about when some telemarketer calls you and immediately asks YOU to hold? Or when they say, ďHi, John!Ē in their attempt to make you believe itís a friend calling?

Itís that ironic sense of aloneness that the phone so often brings that make me truly happy when I do answer the damn thing and it really is an old friend calling from Tucson, Arizona or Black Diamond, Alberta to tell me that theyíre coming out for a visit. The reason I like those kinds of calls is because they mean Iím going to have a genuine interaction in the near future.

Real face-to-face contact between people is progressively disappearing in North American culture, and the main culprit for that are phones, especially cellphones. Once the technology improves just a little bit more, and you can see people as you talk to them, we might just lose touch (no pun intended) with other people altogether.

Itís a bloody old lonesome world so I guess itís no surprise that people lurch for their phones every time they ring. But if nobody ever did it, what would happen? Would everything fall apart? Or would people have to get out of their cars and their houses and come back downtown and hang around and have fun together like they used to?

Or maybe I'm just a crotchety old hermit with a head full of yesterdays.

Iíll talk to you later.