A cellphone incident (and an obligatory note)

As (almost) always, it ain’t the tool, it’s the users. (There’s a Maria Muldaur lyric that comes to mind, but I can think of no first entendre for it…)

A few days ago I was having lunch at a newish nearby Japanese restaurant. Their hot item is all-you-can-eat sushi (done sanely: you order three pieces, then can keep ordering as you wish–but if you leave any, you get charged for the leftovers)…but they also do a great bento box, which is what I was having:

Miso soup, salad, kim chi, rice, half a sectioned mandarin, and two items–in my case, mixed tempura and beef teriyaki.

And, as usual when I go out for lunch on my own, reading a science fiction magazine.

That’s background.

Two cell phone users

A few years back, Mountain View techies tended to be polite enough that they’d take their cell phone conversations out of restaurants to the sidewalk–or even turn off their cell phones. (I know: Hard to imagine, isn’t it?) But, of course, we’ve all learned that “remote people” are more important than people actually around us, haven’t we–and that it’s rude to expect not to have other people shouting various intimacies at us.

Anyway: A young mother at the table next to mine, maybe 5 feet away (I assume she was a mother, as her remarkably well-behaved infant was with her) got a call. She answered…in either a conversational tone or lower. I might have been vaguely aware that talking was going on, but no more so than if two good friends were sitting at the table. Not even a slight annoyance.

Then, at the other end of the restaurant–I’d guess 70 feet away, maybe more–a guy at the sushi bar got on the phone. For the first of several calls. I could hear every. single. word. I couldn’t possibly not hear every single word. Tuning it out to be able to read was surprisingly difficult.

Oddly enough, neither the semi-polite young woman nor the boorish man were the Borg: Neither had the semi-permanent ear attachment.

The moral

It ain’t the tool, it’s the users.

The obligatory and not-quite-unrelated note

Yes, I’m aware of the new Pew “futurists” report.

I’ve even read it–not just the summary, but the whole 100+ pages.

I took note of the “hand gestures in the air” comment, and have one of those for the academic who stated as fact that “We all want to steal.”

I looked at the “experts” in this odd survey, and wondered whether a more meaningful set of predictions for 2020 might not be gained by randomly choosing 2,000 people on the street, preferably including some of the New Homeless… I mean, Jeff Jarvis? Good lord…

And after reading it, I’ve decided this post is all the comment I’ll have. It’s not even worth a segment of a future “futurism” piece. (Sorry, Seth. Your comments were all strikingly sensible. So were quite a few of the others.)

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