The Modern World is Going to Hell: A Continuing Series: The Texting Vermin of the Apocalypse

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The  fourth in my series of posts in which I give rants against trends that have developed in society since the days of my youth, the halcyon days of the seventies, when leisure suits and disco were sure signs that society was ready to be engulfed in a tide of ignorance, bad taste and general buffoonery.

We have started off the series with a look at seven developments that I view as intensely annoying and proof that many people lack the sense that God granted a goose.  I like to refer to these as  The Seven Hamsters of the Apocalypse, minor evils that collectively illustrate a society that has entered a slough of extreme stupidity.  Each of the Seven Hamsters will have a separate post.  We have already discussed here the Tattooed Vermin,  here the Pierced Vermin and here the F-Bomb Vermin.  The fourth of the Hamsters is the Texting Vermin.

When I was a lad there was only one means of communicating from one’s home other than being a ham radio operator or opening a window and shouting through it.  I of course refer to the good old basic black rotary telephone.  For viewers too young to have personal experience of such things, please watch this video:

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Back in those days almost all homes had only one phone, if they had a phone at all.  A mobile phone was a phone with a very long phone cord so that you could take it with you as you walked around your house (no joke).  Many telephone users were on “party lines” which meant that several households were on the same phone line.  They were indeed “party lines” for gossips who would silently wait to eavesdrop on conversations.  A long distance call, especially across international boundaries, was an adventure, and very much a hit or miss proposition.  Voice quality was often poor and sometimes filled with static.  As a result, men and boys tended not to spend much time on the phone.  As a matter of fact, I am hard-pressed to recall any conversation that my father had on the phone that lasted much beyond three minutes.  Of course he came by that naturally, as his father, who raised a family of six kids on what a shoemaker could make in Paris, Illinois during the Great Depression, viewed phones as an unnecessary expense, and my paternal grandmother finally got a phone only after his death.  Phone use  in my family was chiefly done by my Mom who liked talking on the phone as much as my father disliked talking on the phone.  Perhaps this was because, as my Mom confided to me on several occasions, women like to gab a lot have frequent intellectually stimulating discussions.

Of course there were predictions at the time as to what the telephones of the future would be like.  Here is a video produced by the Post Office Research Labs in the United Kingdom in the 1960s showing what the brave new world of telecommunication in the 1990s would be like:

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Little did we dream at the time that future technology would lead to hordes of people walking around with Star Trek like cell phones seemingly surgically implanted in their hands.

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Strangely enough, these cell phone addicts wish to share with the rest of us their conversations, judging from the ever increasing number of individuals  I have encountered in public places having “private” conversations at the top of their lungs with their cell phones.  Driving of course takes on an added element of adventure as cell phone using drivers careen through heavy traffic, their minds of course totally focused on the road.

Texting addiction takes cell phone addiction to a whole new level.

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Driving while texting is such a truly stupid thing to do, that it amazes me that even an addict would do it, but apparently texting while at the wheel is increasingly common and causing ever more collisions.  One could argue that this is Darwinian evolution at work, if the texters were not taking non-texters out of this world with them.

PSAs against texting have been deployed with little impact:

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The Brits have produced an especially graphic psa on the subject:

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Alas, I suspect that gore bespattered anti-texting screeds will have as little impact on most of the current generation as the bloody anti-drinking and driving films had on most of my compatriots three and a half decades ago in driver’s ed.  Laws against texting while driving have thus far  apparently proven ineffective, and it is theorized that  the texters, more concerned with concealing their texting in states which have banned it behind the wheel than mere survival, are continuing to text surreptitiously while driving and thus increasing the number of collisions. Laws can punish but they cannot supply common sense.

Continual cell phone and texting use demonstrates how far modern society has gotten away from meaningful communication and to a ceaseless babel the purpose of which appears to be to prevent us being alone with our thoughts as little as possible.   In my office I have a copy of a prayer written by Saint Thomas More.  It begins:

Give me the grace, Good Lord

To set the world at naught. To set my mind firmly on Thee and not to hang upon the words of men’s mouths.

To be content to be solitary.

Now most of us are content never to be solitary and we wish ever to hang upon the words of men’s mouths.

However, perhaps I am being too harsh.  After all, it isn’t as if the texting  addicts deliberately attempt to make public displays of themselves.  That of course bring us to the Trashy Vermin.  Alas, I have been advised  that my oatmeal and boiled carrots are getting cold.  Until next time.

(Hattip to my daughter, the Designated Texter for the McClarey family, who snapped the above photo of the elusive Texting Vermin.)

13 Responses to The Modern World is Going to Hell: A Continuing Series: The Texting Vermin of the Apocalypse

  • Mack Hall says:

    Thunderous applause (which of course you can’t hear). But it is ironic — I visit AMERICAN CATHOLIC every day when I could be solitudinous (is that a real word?).

    Life is good.

  • T. Shaw says:

    As usual: 100% correct.

    We OF’s need to hang together, or we’ll hang separately (B. Franklin, the archetypical OF).

    If only: we pray 1/10th as much as they text.

  • Karl says:

    I must be grateful for my ability to text our children, since they all live far from me. I go back into the days of DA’s and Packs of Lucky’s in the rolled up sleeves of shirts, although I was far too young to smoke(and still do not).
    You failed to mention “party lines”, but that does not mean the “talking point
    memos” of todays political propoganda and their sychphant followers.

    So, I guess I am one of those cheesy texters! Although I do it at a snails pace.

  • Donna V says:

    Remember that there were a solid core of phone numbers that everyone had memorized – their own, of course, the numbers of close relatives and friends, one’s work number and emergency numbers. Nobody has to remember numbers any more – I can still rattle off my parents’ phone number 21 years after I last dialed it, but I can’t remember my sister’s cell phone number, although I call her almost daily.

    But the ability to make a phone call just about anywhere can be a blessing. Last winter, I was on a city street after dark. It wasn’t too far from my place but the block was deserted. A rather dubious character called to me from across the street and asked me to help him change his tire. All sorts of alarms went off in my head. I continued to walk away, but held up my cell phone and offered to call AAA if he needed help. He said “forget it” and then cursed me. If cell phones did not exist, I still would not have been so stupid as to ignore my instincts and put myself in potential danger, but having the cell phone certainly provided an extra measure of security.

  • Suz says:

    I find telephones dreadful objects, and flinch whenever the household phone rings. It’s obtrusive and invasive. Hand-lettered faxes, emails and text messages offer a certain graceful silence to communication, and also time to compose one’s thoughts.

    I mean, if you use them that way. Which naturally excludes the Vermin.

    And, good gravy, the one-sided cell phone conversations trumpeted up and down the aisles of stores, not excluding furious disputes, the berating of remote children, and, uh, pitching pretty serious woo—is this the new party line? Where we are ALL forced to eavesdrop?

  • Aaron B. says:

    As someone who absolutely hates talking on the phone, I find texting to be a great improvement. You can leave someone a message and let him respond at his leisure, without having to interrupt him and exchange pleasantries first.

    Also, if you text very often, you can do it without looking at the phone, just like a decent typist can type without looking at the keyboard. So I actually find it safer while driving than talking on the phone, which really does take one’s attention away (much like having an engaging conversation with a passenger).

  • Paul Zummo says:

    I think it is an absolute blessing to be able to be able to make a phone call from just about any location, but like most everything, moderation is the key. As a frequent rider on mass Transit, I find the loud talkies to be absolutely infuriating. It’s one thing to have a brief “I’m on my way home” conversation with one’s spouse, but there are people who seem intent on having rather loud conversations for the entire duration of a bus ride. The snowball effect is that I am prompted to put on my headphones, which is probably going to be part six in Don’s series. :)

  • Paul Zummo says:

    I am old enough to remember rotary phones and even manual typewriters.

    So am I, though I don’t know if I’d qualify as an old fogey at the age of 33. But even my niece, who is 23, might be symbolic of the new generation. Try prying her cell phone/text message machine away from her. I dare you. You didn’t really need that hand, did you?

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