Down With Cell Phones

AROUND THE RIM COUNTRY

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One of my greatest weaknesses as a human being is a propensity to get into fights I can't win.

I believe in causes and things that most people in this country don't seem to believe in anymore -- like keeping church and state separate, for example, and letting people do what they want as long as they don't infringe on the rights of others.

I also tend to sympathize with the little guy, the outsider, the underdog, and, always, the runt of the litter.

Actually I consider this trait kind of a strength, but others don't. I am often labeled unpatriotic, or radical, or, worse yet, a bleeding-heart liberal.

But it doesn't stop me, because the urge to be the way I am is uncontrollable. And here I go again.

I'm growing very weary of all the people who continually tell me I really need to get a cell phone. I know the entire free world has cell phones, but I think I have some very good reasons why I will never own a cell phone, at least until I change my mind.

Here they are:

• They don't work in my house.

(Why would I want something that is supposed to make my life more convenient when I can't even use it in my own home. Besides, in my humble opinion, cell phones do not make one's life more convenient. They make it more complicated. They force their owners to be available all the time. Sure you don't have to answer it, but just knowing it's there adds a dimension of complexity to my life I don't need.)

• They don't work on the Beeline.

(If there's one compelling argument for a cell phone, it's that I might need it some dark and stormy night when my car breaks down on the Beeline Highway. But they don't work on the Beeline, so what kind of argument is that?)

• They don't work all kinds of places in the Rim Country.

(I am a Virgo. It drives me crazy when things don't work. It would drive me absolutely insane to be talking to somebody one minute and just have them vanish into thin air the next. I would probably scream epithets at the cell phone gods in the sky or do something equally beneath my lofty station as a journalist.)

• I already have to carry too many things around as it is.

(Keys, change, a wallet, reading glasses. I moved to the Rim Country to simplify my life, not complicate it.)

• Telephones -- even cell phones -- are really an obsolete technology.

(I know there are picture phones and other gadgets and gewgaws on phones these days, but let's face it -- the telephone is just a crude step above the telegraph which is just a crude step above the tom tom when it comes to devices for communication.)

• Cell phones are distracting.

(There's a lot of research out there about whether talking on a cell phone affects one's ability to drive a car. I've never understood quite why it is anymore distracting than carrying on a conversation with somebody actually in the car, but apparently it is. I do know this: whenever I see some idiot driving like he or she is totally spaced out and living in another world, he or she invariably has one hand to his or her ear.

• Cell phones are rude.

(Because people must leave the moment they're in to talk on their cell phones. That makes them just another obstacle to the fast disappearing art of one-on-one, face-to-face communication.)

• Most cell phone contracts are a screw job.

(Everybody I know with a cell phone, which is just about everybody I know, hates their provider because they unwittingly signed a contract containing hidden provisions charging them unconscionable fees, a contract that will keep them in servitude until they die at which time it condemns them straight to hell.)

• Every 11-year-old in America has a cell phone.

(I am, as a rule, not into things that 11-year-olds are into. In fact, I would be concerned about myself if I were.)

So let's summarize: a cell phone is an unreliable, low-tech toy that encourages people to be rude while it slowly destroys their sanity if they don't run into a tree first.

I know what you're saying: "There goes that left wing bleeding-heart liberal weirdo again. Why, not owning a cell phone is downright un-American. Even worse, it's French. I'll bet he doesn't like women who shave their legs either."

Sorry folks. I'm absolutely incurable.

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