I was at a birthday party the other night and a few of us got to talking. The subject, appropriately, was about talking on cell phones.
Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.
We noticed that even when surrounded by friends, the remaining partygoers (including ourselves) had hands ready to draw cell phones at any given moment. They were in our laps and or on the bar at easy reach. Who knows what important text could come through late night?
We all know those are super important.
And there could be a huge development like a national overthrow on Twitter. Or, what if we needed to Google all the members of English-American supergroup Traveling Wilburys?
Better yet, try it without looking it up on Wikipedia. It's more difficult than it sounds.
I just helped someone win a bar bet.
A girl named Boo - actually she was a girl nicknamed Boo - started telling a story about how some friends in Florida had started a new game at parties called Stack 'Ems. The concept is so new it doesn't even have a presence on YouTube.
Seems near-miraculous these days.
Stack 'Ems is a fun game because it gets people talking to each other instead of to others through cell phones. The premise is a lot the Key Master game at parties when I was in college. Anyone who walked through the door and was driving surrendered their keys to prevent drinking and driving. The idea is great, but it didn't always work.
Unfortunately people aren't always cooperative when drinking.
Instead of handing over keys, dinner party guests add their smartphones to a mass of others and people see how high they can stack them. Hence the name.
Like Jenga, but a lot more expensive if something breaks.
I like this idea. I often find myself fixated on my cellphone for texts or missed calls, Facebook status updates, and now - thanks to a terrible addiction - Words with Friends reminders. This, I don't like. I should be doing something else like talking to a friend who's in my presence face-to-face. At the rate we're at with smartphone habits, we might as well all stay at home and text each other from our couches.
Do we really want it to come to that?
Anymore, cell phones have become extensions of our own selves. It seems like if I leave my cellphone at home one night or my battery dies, I've lost a big toe. It's like I can't function because my attention is diverted to the one thing I'm missing, my better half, my cell phone. I might as well turn my index finger into a cell phone.
Look for the "Edward Scissorhands" lesser-known sequel, "Eddie Smartphonefingers" on DVD soon.
I am not proud of this situation involving my smartphone. I imagine many of us are a little embarrassed of how rude it is to talk on a cell phone in a public place or text someone else while having a face-to-face conversation with a person. I'm pretty sure we all learned proper manners growing up, and these weren't part of the lessons. It's almost as if the rules have changed and we are throwing all manners out the window. Are we seriously turning into a bunch of rude, distracted jerks with little respect for others in our presence?
Sounds a lot like being at the airport.
If we want to answer that question with a resounding no, then we need to make some lifestyle changes. How about we get off our cells and get out and enjoy the outdoors a little more? Instead of texting for hours when you and the person receiving the texts live in the same town, choose beers at a brewpub to say all the things you can't type fast enough. In person.
What a concept.
I admit I am as much an addict of all things social networking- and smartphone media-related as the next person. By recognizing I've been a jerk, and apologizing for it because I truly am sorry, I know I can improve the situation. At a party, I'd rather see my cell phone back at home on my kitchen table than in my hand. If I go out with friends, the only reason I should have my smartphone out is if I'm taking a photo with it. I will enjoy the moment more and worry about what everyone else is up to less. That's how I want to live my life.
I want to especially live it without regrets.
- April E. Clark rides again. Look for her recap of snowcat and snowmobiling riding with the Mt. Sopris Rec Riders for the "April Takes a Ride" series in Sunday's Post Independent. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@ gmail.com.