"Cellphones are wonderful, but they empower the obnoxious and amplify the ignorant. Once they kept their thoughts to themselves. They had no choice. Now they have cellphones, into which they bark, "I'm on line at Duane Reade. Yeah. Ex-Lax." Oh, thank you for sharing. How much less my life would be if I didn't know.
BlackBerrys empower the obsessed. We wouldn't have them if the economy weren't high and we weren't pretty well off. Once, a political figure in New York invited me to a private dinner. I was seated next to him, and as the table conversation took off he leaned back, quietly took out his BlackBerry, and began to scroll. It occurred to me that if I said something live in person, it would not be as interesting to him as if I'd BlackBerryed him. It occurred to me that if I wanted to talk to him I'd have to BlackBerry him and say, "Please talk to me." And then he would get the message.
It is possible that we are on the cellphone because we are lonely and hunger for connection, even of the shallowest kind; that we BlackBerry because we hope for a sense of control in a chaotic world; that we are frightened of stillness and must interrupt conversations; that we are desperate to make the sale in the highly competitive environment of the Banana Republic on 86th Street and must aggressively pursue customers.
It's also possible we have grown more boorish. I think it's that one. Many things thrive in the age of everything, including bad manners."
-Peggy Noonan, "Rich Man, Boor Man" Opinion Journal/Wall Street Journal
Does anyone else feel this way? Technology can be very helpful. Who wants to live without indoor plumbing, central air & heat, electronic communications, and modern transportation? But have we paid too high a price by uncritically embracing technology?
A story: Once a Hasidic Rebbe in the 19th century complained: "Ah the times are bad! We've become obsessed with business. At one time the roads were difficult to travel. So we'd travel until dusk. Then we would find an Inn where we would eat, drink, sing songs and meet many wonderful people. Now the roads have been paved and are safe to travel. So we travel all day and all night so we can make it to market early. No more telling stories, no more singing, and no more sharing our lives. Progress has not made life easier: just more busy for commerce."
Ah, how easy it is to be caught up in the sprint of rodents!