Technological advancements bring promise and problems. These two effects are often so intertwined that it’s challenging to separate them. I’m not a luddite; I am a “louddite”.
I love my Iphone, but smart phones can alienate users from the rest of their environment when they pump up the volume. It quickly and frequently becomes a case of TMI: too much information.
Today while walking the bike path along Vineyard Sound, one runner approached us from behind. It was not the patter of his feet or a shout out of “On your Left” that let us know he was approaching. A loud one-sided, totally absorbed dialogue—something about a tennis match and a local pub and a full-busted woman filled the otherwise quiet walk in the woods. No eye contact is made, no hello is said, just loud talk into a small black box jammed up against his ear. It’s small talk that’s too big.
The double-edged sword is that he’s invading my space while exposing his private life to anyone within ear-shot. He was indifferent to it all. It was too much information and noise for me–a completely disinterested bystander–and an impingement upon my personal space.
A similar situation occurs in the upscale grocery markets that I try so hard to avoid. The army of well-dressed-to-impress-women with the latest smart phone gadgets attached to their bodies invade and wipe out the store’s musaic. They park their carts in the middle of the aisle and broadcast what the nanny does to annoy them today… where their husband are traveling this week–and what purchases they just made at the mall.
The level of decibels is astounding and offensive. Nothing stops them. Don’t they realize that nobody cares about their inane conversation? Nobody’s impressed, and nobody wants to hear it. I realize that the grocery store is not expected to be a quiet, meditative place, but this broadcasting of what should be private news is obnoxious.
I have been tempted to stand next to one of these “Chatty Cathy’s”, take off my shoe, and start talking into it “Get Smart” style. Into my loafer, I would announce that I am thrilled about the great sex I had last night and that our investments doubled at the close of the market yesterday. I’d add that both of my children won Nobel Prizes and that my husband was Time’s Man of the Year.
I’d speak clearly and loudly into my shoe, make no eye contact, put my shoe back on my foot and push my cart down the produce aisle, while nudging hers to the side. I might ask “How do you like them apples?”