Culture or clutter? Dont Pick up da phone

If we act fast we can get 1,000 anytime minutes for only $30 a month. Now we can all afford to talk to anyone anywhere anytime. We can even talk while listening to the newest hip-hoppin’ pop hit “Pick up da phone,” which gives a detailed narrative of the virtues of the fast-moneyed and fast-paced cell phonin’ life.

I can also get a cell phone that matches every outfit in my wardrobe, whether it’s red, white, and blue, pink, or aquamarine. I’ll be talkin’ to my friends and family in style while I’m 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 minutes away. Next month I’ve scheduled that procedure that implants a direct telecommunications link into my head.

My own mother and sister are loyal cell phonies, it is a must for their personal, parental, and even professional lives. On my way to work, as I duck and dodge the hordes of excited cell phony drivers, I’m really worrying about my own family 2,000 miles away. And what about that guy talking on a walkie-talkie who dashed out into the intersection, never noticing my speeding car coming his way. (I didn’t hit him, but it was close.) Will that be my niece someday?

And those kids in the movie theater last weekend who seemed to call every person on earth to tell them what a cool sound track the movie has. I just know that my nephew Elisha is gonna be one of them.

But those are just annoyances. In the grand social calculus of today, cell phones do more good than harm. It’s more cost effective to have a workforce that can work anytime from anywhere. And it is better to give our kids an over-the-phone kiss. Ten minute relationships are better than no relationships at all? We are saving time and money. Or are we just spending what we have faster?

Cell phones are causing some problems. Toxic waste and radio signals can’t really be good for our health or the planet’s health.

Is it an endless cycle of corporate moneymaking, or do we have a choice? What would really happen if we turned off the ringer and didn’t ‘Pick up da phone’?

The author can be reached at bkishner@pww.org