One angry little ramble

An opinionated rant
By Chris Hibbard

One Angry Little Ramble

You know what pisses me off? Our new technology replacing our old relationships.

Twenty years ago if we wanted to write someone a letter we had to use a pen and paper, an envelope and a stamp. We would think carefully about what we had to say, would try and print/write legibly, and would make every word count.

Ten years ago if I wanted to speak to you, I had to pick up the telephone and call you, and ideally would set a time and place to go for lunch or coffee and chat in person.

Five years ago if I wanted to know more about you, I had to ask you questions about yourself, get you to open up and reveal to me personally your responses to my questions.

Yesterday I was invited again to join Facebook, was encouraged to check out someone’s fancy updated MySpace page, had one class interrupted by a ringing cell phone, and sat next to a student in another who was text-messaging his friends for ten minutes. In this same class another student was sitting in front of me playing solitaire on his laptop while the lecture was going on.

With Facebook and MySpace, I can learn all I need to know about you, because you put it out there in the public domain. “I’m Chris..I like… I hate… I live… I look like… I enjoy…” I can look at pictures of you and your boobs and your pets and your art projects, and can peruse a list of all your many ‘friends’, most of whom you may have never even met. “Look how popular I am today! All these people became my friends, and this one lives in Toronto! Yay!” Barf. If I want to talk to you, I’ll call you. If I want to stalk you, harass you, spread lies about you and annoy you, I’ll sign up for fuckin’ Facebook.

With cellphones and laptops, we don’t even need to use our voices anymore. Why should I actually dial a seven-digit number and hear a human voice, when I can spend twice as long typing out characters on the world’s smallest keyboard, and then text you things like this: “U n Me – beer – 4:00 – Zoo.”

Or I can spend countless hours with MSN messenger, waiting five minutes at a time for you to respond to my last statement. When you do respond it might look like this “U no wut? I luv ppl that J. LOL – c u tonite? <”

Some would argue that “oh, it’s just so convenient.” Maybe so, but it’s annoying as hell and pisses me off. I like actual conversations. I like being able to read your expression, to see your eyes, to watch your lips and smile, to hear sarcasm firsthand and know that I am not misunderstanding you.

As for cell phones themselves, get a life. Use it for emergencies only. Use it like a payphone and pretend you have a limited amount of quarters. I don’t drive behind people who are on their cell phones. I don’t own a cell phone. I don’t want to check my email on your cell phone. I don’t want to listen to the awesome ring tone you paid $1.49 for on your cell phone. I don’t want to see your family photo album on your cell phone. I don’t want you to take my picture on your cell phone, let alone be videorecorded.

I don’t want to hear your phone ring while I’m at the movie theatre, in class, or out for dinner, even if it does play the Star Wars theme. I don’t want to play a video game or watch a movie on the 1” screen on your cellphone. I hope they keep making them more and more expensive, and smaller and smaller, so that you lose your cell phone, drop your cell phone, accidentally break your cell phone, and your life falls apart and you don’t know what to do, and you have to cough up $300 for a new cell phone. I hope you accidentally swallow your teeny-tiny cell phone and choke on it.

I don’t want to stand behind you in line at the grocery store and overhear you relate all the terrible shit that happened to you at work today – you should be giving the grocery clerk your attention, not just your debit card and your blank stare. I don’t want to call you and learn that you’re out for dinner with your family, only to have our conversation cut short because your reception is bad or your batteries are dying.

Get off your freaking cell phones and pay attention to the world around you. Are you so important that you need to be in constant communication with others at all times?

I don’t have a cell phone. I have a land line, complete with answering machine. It’s listed in the white pages. I have email and a mailbox. If I want to talk to you, I’ll call you. I have four close friends. If you call here and I’m not around, ask them, and they’ll likely know where I am. If you don’t know who my close friends are, or what I do in my spare time, or how to use a phone book, or how to leave a message or an email, then I probably don’t want to know you anyway.

So. Technology pisses me off. Turn off your damn phone. Shut your fucking laptop before I punch you in your FaceBook and send you into outer-MySpace. Live your life and treat your friends with respect. These things are tools for us to use, not the other way around.

You can all figure out where I am and how to get a hold of me. That should be enough. I won’t talk to you for hours online, nor hours on the phone. I will talk to you for hours over coffee, beer, or just chillin’ somewhere. I’ll even try to make it worth your while, just because you put in that additional effort.

~ by Chris Hibbard on October 31, 2008.

One Response to “One angry little ramble”

  1. You don’t have to swear so much, you know. But I see how you feel. I had these friends who moved away, and every time I got a letter from them, the whole world would change colour. But then I got an e-mail address, and I haven’t truly spoken to them since. Every once in a long while I write miles of e-mail to them, but I never get much of a response.
    And I don’t like going online, even though my friends want me to. I mean, I talk to people all the livelong day – why do I have to do it all night too?
    I’m glad there’s ooVoo now – people keep saying technology is connecting the world’s dots, but I spend a lot of time watching he lines we do have fade to something that shouldn’t be.

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