Can’t hear myself think – that’s what I was doing, right?

Posted on May 28, 2010


Written, as you guessed, a little while ago. Now I spend all my time on the phone and have four phone numbers. I think I’ve gone completely over to the dark side. Still don’t text fast enough to remember the beginning of the sentence by the time I’m halfway through, though …

I would like to introduce you to the end of western civilization as we know it: the telephone.

A boon for instant communications, you say. A miraculous tool for connecting businesses to new markets, families scattered over countries and continents, and kids who forgot their homework. How could I disparage such a beautifully useful piece of technology?

The wisdom of years. And also, sad experience. When women of the 23rd century look back on us now, they will be filled with a desire to go back a couple of hundred years and save us from the second greatest destabilizer of western civilization: chocolate.

It’s the addiction, folks. Because we are trapped within its clutches we can’t see it for what it is.

I use for an example… myself, of course. That’s a natural beginning place for any discussion I initiate regarding dorky behaviors. I’ve always enjoyed long conversations with people too far away to personally visit. I also enjoy long conversations with people I personally visit, but that’s another discussion altogether. Being rather sociable by nature (alright, feel free to bring up the image of the St. Bernard puppy jumping up and giving your face a friendly wash, I won’t be wounded) I’ve indulged the connection via wire, justifying it because I could continue to work while I visited. The ultimate efficiency: doing two valuable things at once, one of which is interesting.

The problem is that you can only visit with one person when there’s a phone stuck in your ear. And that person isn’t one of those in close enough proximity to need both of your ears and both eyes and at least half your brain. Hazardous things happen when you take your attention off short folks.

I spend a great deal less time on the phone than I once did. One of my sisters and I used to talk almost every day. I invested in a service with the telephone company, back in the day when everything out of your phone prefix was costly local long distance, that allowed me to specify one number on which I could have unlimited minutes. I chose my sister’s, and for 20 bucks a month we talked all we wanted. Almost every afternoon weekdays we would talk while we did the kind of work that you don’t need your brain to do and our kids enjoyed the holiday. It was an important connection for two young mothers who spent most of their time with people who don’t speak in complete sentences.

Now I have less work to do that doesn’t require my brain and more things slip by me when a phone is stuck in my ear. I get a call from another sister, with whom I tend to have long conversations, and all of a sudden the place gets quiet. One short person slips by me mumbling something, which I later learn was “goin t’ Lucas’s” — which would not occur until chores were done, if I were not on the phone. Another mumbles “cnI have 20 pounds of ham” — I smile — which would not occur if I were not on the phone. Another couple happily pair off mumbling “goin to the store to spend all our change” as they brush cheerily by and I wave them off, which would not occur if I were not on the phone. The last simply sits long enough at the computer for shoulder and neck muscles to atrophy, which would not occur if I were not on the phone.

Say what you will about the obvious holes in my teaching of self-governance to my children, they are astute enough to know when they’ve been bequeathed their freedom (no dumb cookies here.) The cat doesn’t have to be away (with the mice gone she just struts confidently wherever she pleases); I just have to be on the phone.

I have, to this point, thought that text messaging was going to be the end of normal conversation as we know it. I’m thinking … that might not be a bad thing. Now if I could just text at something faster than morse code. Me doing morse code. But then, if I got good at texting I might talk like Miss Teen South Carolina when without the cell phone (see some earlier post about that and pretend that this is a pretty blue link) but at least I would not be madam clueless… what was I talking about? I don’t think I’m helping myself here.

Remind me, was I eating chocolate or talking on the phone?

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