Skip to content

Person-to-person vs. cell phones

Person-to-person vs. cell phones

Posted: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 8:00 pm

The Messenger 02.22.12

We live in a strange new world. It’s kind of like an alien movie. But little green men aren’t the ones currently threatening our civilization. Telephones are the real threat to our civility. I know. I think Alexander Graham Bell would be a little disappointed in our current state of telephone affairs.
My guess is that Mr. Bell invented the telephone as a way to help people communicate better. And it worked. If Uncle George is deathly ill in Oklahoma City, the family can now be notified quickly and efficiently. Thank you, Mr. Bell.
If we want to invite Mrs. Eula to a birthday party on Sunday afternoon, we can call her on the phone and invite her. Thank you, Mr. Bell.
But here’s the deal. Mrs. Eula and other older folks tend to understand the purpose of the telephone much better than the younger generation. Y’see, when Mrs. Eula comes to the party on Sunday afternoon, she doesn’t spend the whole afternoon texting people on the very phone that got her to the birthday party in the first place. No. She understands the purpose of the telephone. The phone’s purpose was to GET her to the party. Now that she’s AT the party, she talks to other people who are AT the party. The people she loves who are NOT AT the party will have to be talked to at a later date. Alexander Graham Bell didn’t know this would ever have to be explained in such detail.
Here’s another scenario. A young man asks a young woman out on a date. This has been taking place for hundreds and hundreds of years. We should know how to do this by now, right? Wrong. I’m afraid some people don’t even know how to go on a proper date. Therefore, I shall take it upon myself as a newspaper columnist to educate a segment of our population. When the young man and the young woman are sitting in a restaurant, they are to be talking to EACH OTHER. They are to ask questions like, “If you could have any job in the world, what would it be and why?” “If you could travel to any place in the world, where would you go?” This is called COMMUNICATION. If you are on a date and you are using your telephone to send a picture of a cat wearing a clown suit to your cousin in Humboldt, this is NOT communication. In fact, if you are on a date, sending a picture of a cat wearing a clown suit to your cousin in Humboldt, is downright inappropriate. That’s just my humble opinion. Again, Mr. Bell never thought we’d be having this conversation.
We added our share to the Steve Jobs’ fortune this year with the purchase of two I-Phones. They can sing, dance and do a myriad of other tasks. But there are several things the phones can’t do. Several things they’ll never be able to do. They can’t look a person in the eyes and hear what the person is saying. They can’t process pain and sadness and joy. They can’t give a hug to someone who is hurting. I like having a cell phone. But when I’m with human beings, I put my phone away. I think Alexander Graham Bell would be proud.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. She can be reached by e-mail at
For more information, visit her website,

, ,