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

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:

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:

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.

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.

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:

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

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 four 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.)

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

8 Comments

  1. 1. Grocery shopping became a form of social withdrawal when, after turning to acknowledge many instances of perceived greetings, I was eye to eye with someone having a private conversation not with me.

    2. Before cell phones, one did not ever appear to be talking to oneself. Ever.

    3. The world was a bigger, more interesting and, ripe for learning place during the period of telephone company phones when exchanges were named rather that numbered. We were JE for Jefferson, and grandparents ten miles south were RE for Republic. Manners and awareness of other people abounded. The phone book was like an encyclopedia of how locales and government offices were organized.

    4. Vermin, who hate certain religions or are indifferent or are unaware, are now commonly heard what I call ‘praying’ the OMG. He is called out by all when the ‘awesomeness’ of something needs another ‘word’.

    5. Back at the grocery aisles, a chance meeting of an acquaintance is usually joined by someone in the acquaintance’s left hand and is a cue to continue down the aisle with a wave exchanged.

    6. Then, the dashboard screens keeping the driver connected to wireless technology lead me to wonder .

    7. Solitary thought must be about how in heck to work all the technological possibilities available and stay with the pack of acronym speakers.

  2. In a way, texting is a mercy.
    After the rise of cell phones I was often treated to the most intimate details of others’ private lives while on the bus or at work. Now everyone texts, silently.

  3. We are one solar “burp” away from this mechanical form of communication to cease. The burp would have to be of National Lampoon’s Animal House variety….a massive cosmic belch.
    Let’s hope not…but some days you almost wish it would happen. Example; Cell phone went off during Mass. Then the ding-a-ling answers it!! Oh boy.
    btw…great shot of the elusive texting vermin. 🙂

  4. Being familiar with how the numbers of “alcohol related” accidents are calculated (example: you hit a beer bottle? Alcohol related accident! Base gets three days of lectures!), I am prone to taking the claims of texting related accidents with a whole brick of salt.
    .
    People just drive like idiots, apparently thinking themselves immortal.
    A theory my husband and I have cooked up is that people learn to drive in the little tin cans, which are able to zip around and weigh nothing so they can stop quickly– and they don’t drive much in bad conditions– so when they’re in something that doesn’t drive like that, they try to keep doing so. Result: the two ton pickup that apparently can’t see a bright red minivan that is a foot behind the driver’s side window. The simi that speeds up to keep someone from merging, even when that means they become illegally close to the car in front of them. The various wagon-esqe vehicles that don’t touch their breaks until five feet from the stop line, and then glare at you as you walk around their car, which is now blocking the entire crosswalk.
    .
    I also tend to snarl at the “SEE motorcycles!” bumper stickers with something to the effect of how it’s hard not to do so, since they keep cutting me off and generally driving like idiots. (It’s to the point where we cheer, honk, and wave if there’s one that follows the law. Ditto bicycles, of which I’ve seen exactly one follow the law, and that was on the opposite side of the state.)

  5. Oh, and I love texting. It means I almost never have to actually call people on the phone– I can send them a quick picture and a line or two, and they can send a line or two when they have time.

  6. This phenomenon began with a Digital Mobile phone from a company in NYC called OMNIPOINT.This concept did not take off until AT&T Wireless went into offering text packages.
    Now we have Computers as Mobile Phones.

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