By Dave Simpson, Columnist
Years ago, in an advice to the graduates column, this suggestion was among the gems I bestowed upon the matriculating youngsters:
“Look up from your cell phone now and then. There’s a whole world out there that isn’t on the screen of your dopey little device. Give it a try, Skippy.”
A side benefit: You won’t walk into the path of an oncoming Greyhound bus, your final words on this planet to some best friend forever, “lol.”
(Two other pieces of advice worthy of revisiting here: Most of the romance you see on TV is bunk, so don’t get your heart set on never-ending, heart-pounding love. In the words of Cher, “Snap out of it!” And, don’t marry someone you can’t trust with a credit card.)
Look up right now from wherever you’re reading these words (newspaper, desk-top computer, cell phone). Chances are you see someone else, and there’s a good bet they’re peering into their cell phone – yammering with some friend (how do these people have so much to talk about?), crushing candy, or cussing at spam.
You can see how many grads took my advice and looked up from their phones: Nobody. (Swell advice for column-writing geezers like me: Don’t waste time writing advice to the grads columns.)
The other day, at the park where I walk half-mile laps around a lake, there was a guy sitting on the shore fishing. He had a folding chair, a cooler, and tackle box. And every time I walked past him, he was staring into his cell phone. Let me repeat that. He was staring into his cell phone while he was FISHING.
(He should go to the “app store” and look for an app that will alert him when his bobber bobs.)
A lady was sitting on a park bench, reading something on her tablet computer for about an hour as I walked my laps.
Other people at the park sat in the shade of trees, checking their cell phones. Couples held hands with one hand, their cell phones with the other. People walking dogs stopped every now and then, checking their phones for messages. A day in the park, these days, is no day in the park.
Waiters, construction workers, drivers in oncoming cars – everyone is sneaking a peek. The irritating person in the car in front of you at the drive-through at McDonalds or the bank, who doesn’t pull up when the person in front of him/her pulls up, is checking his/her cell phone.
Drives me nuts.
My wife, who hates wasting time, used to get frustrated by delays at the doctor’s office. Now, she whiles away the time playing Scrabble on her cell phone with friends hundreds of miles away. Our son kills aliens, or enemy soldiers, or who knows what, on his phone, using both thumbs to shoot.
To get their attention, I say something like this: “I’m thinking about joining Antifa and moving to Portland. What do you think?”
Last week I visited our red-haired, blue-eyed grand daughter, who is two. Cute as a button. Talking up a storm. (She has a disabled TV remote that she talks into like a cell phone. She calls it her “Hello.”) Her favorite thing in the world, next to her mom and dad, is any cell phone she can get her hands on.
Her mom doesn’t let her play with cell phones, but when I showed her pictures on my phone, she was on it like a monkey on a cupcake. She poked every button, changed settings, and swiped pictures, not intimidated by technology, fascinated with this magical device. She had her way with my cell phone until I pried it out of her little hands after she unwittingly set up a conference call with two of her great uncles, one in Utah, the other in California.
It was only after I was half way home that I realized why my phone was so quiet: My grand daughter put me in Airplane Mode.
I have to be patient, however. Five years from now she’ll be one of the young people I can ask to fix my cell phone when I have a problem.
Heaven help us.
Dave Simpson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org