|Jinny is having minor surgery to improve her eyesight so I will be writing her article for the next 4-6 weeks. We both appreciate your patience and are confident that she will be back writing her article soon...Adele
I was recently in a department store aisle when I heard a woman shouting at someone in a very loud voice. It was obvious that the lady was very angry and had no compulsion whatsoever expressing that anger at a level that could be heard easily by anyone within 100 feet of her. I have been in situations before where people go at each other in public, but not often in stores and more often than not, under circumstances where the principals have indulged in the overuse of some adult beverage. I could tell that this lady was livid and some of her language was a little disturbing given the proximity of children. I remember thinking that a manager should come and ask the lady and her adversary to leave the store.
I heard the woman's voice coming closer and glanced to my right when her voice indicated that she would be in visual range. The woman was alone. Except for her cell phone, that is.
This phenomenon never ceases to amaze me. People wander around in all sorts of public venues, stores, restaurants, streets, workplaces, yammering away on their cell phones as if they were sitting in the comfort of their private homes. They fight, plead, whine, cry, and generally behave as if they had no audience. I find this really annoying. I have no desire to be witness to the private personal interaction of strangers; it is irritating and uncomfortable. I have witnessed people in stores talking away with someone with their phones on speaker to free up their hands. When this happens you have the dubious pleasure of hearing both sides of the conversation. Yippee.
I have done some thinking about why people seem so oblivious to the fact that they are holding private conversations with a public audience of absolute strangers. I guess, for some reason, it doesn't bother them. Either that or they find it perfectly acceptable. One time I was behind two people in a check out line in a grocery store and the woman on the phone, who was carrying on a conversation with her significant other that would be best kept in the privacy of a relationship counselor's office, turned angrily to the man behind her and told him to stop listening to her conversation and mind his own business. The poor man was incredulous. I couldn't blame him, she was talking so loud they could have heard her conversation in Singapore. Not only was she perfectly comfortable having a therapy session with her boyfriend in a grocery check-out line, she felt perfectly justified in reprimanding anyone around who might overhear it. I wanted to laugh.
This kind of conspicuous flaunting of dirty laundry in a public arena seems to be in keeping with the public's love affair with reality television. For some reason, people want to spend their time watching and listening to the everyday, intimate lives of complete strangers or people who used to be celebrities and are now pathetic has-beens. What is up with that? I have to live real life, with all it's little humors and tragedies and ugly warts and freak hairs; I have no desire to escape into other people's real lives. I get no joy from watching them make fools out of themselves and no sense of satisfaction from their failures or successes. My life has enough ups and downs, thank you very much, and I have plenty of comedy, tragedy, and irony to keep me entertained, horrified, and confused without needing to latch onto someone else's unbridled mayhem. I have to ask myself, do people feel better about their own lives if they can watch someone else crash and burn on a nightly basis? Is there a kind of vengeance in seeing former celebrities forgotten, fat, drunk, or just behaving like idiots? I just don't get it.
In the matter of cell phones, they are just a part of our cultural trend of what should enhance communication just creating isolation. Everyone now has their own personal phone, palm pilot, MP3 player, television, and computer. When I was a kid, everyone with multiple siblings shared a room, TV, phone, stereo, and calendar. We had to figure out how to share these things. Everyone had to make compromises when necessary. That is a part of learning how to live in a society with other human beings. It was how we practiced unselfishness, fairness, and compromise. Now, no one has to compromise. Everyone is armed to the teeth with the portable electronic tools of communication and the end result is that everyone is far more isolated than they ever were. The irony in that reality is about as subtle as a train wreck.
The modern world seems to have created a new definition for privacy, manners, courtesy, and communication that does not seem to have a lot to do with any of those things. Maybe I'm getting old and becoming an anachronism. Could be, but that's OK; I still don't own a cell phone and even if I did, I'm dead certain that I wouldn't have a screaming fight on it in a grocery store. In my world, that's not entertainment; it's bad manners. The other dinosaurs and I will just keep that sort of carrying on confined to our tar pits.