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JENKINS: Welcome to the downside of personal technology

Rob Jenkins

Rob Jenkins

At the risk of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy, which I am not — well, maybe a little — I’d like to address some of the drawbacks of personal technology.

By “personal technology,” of course, I refer to devices such as cellphones and tablets. I am not talking about devices like the one you use to remove hair from your — well, never mind.

It’s not that I’m opposed to personal technology (or to your removing the hair from your nevermind). Far from it. I might not be a digital native, but neither am I a digital alien. Call me a naturalized citizen, still slightly befuddled by my new “country” and not quite speaking the language.

Remember, for most of my lifetime, only rich people had phones in their cars. I still do a doubletake whenever I see somebody in a ’95 Escort chatting away.

And yet, like everybody else, I’ve become so attached to my phone that I’m not sure what to do without it. I guess the answer is: the same thing I did for the first 40 years I was alive, which is relax.

Anyway, however convenient and even necessary modern technology has become, it still has its downside. For example, you know those stories about the two strangers who meet on a bus and fall in love? Never happen today. They wouldn’t even notice each other, with their heads both bowed over their iPhones.

Then there are people who talk on their phones in a variety of uncomfortable settings — uncomfortable for me, I mean. They appear to be quite comfortable.

For instance, have you ever walked into a public restroom and heard somebody carrying on a conversation in a stall?

Ten years ago, you might have called security. Now you understand the talker is merely using a cellphone — and you can’t help but wonder if the person on the other end knows where his or her conversation partner is located at that precise moment and what that partner is doing with the hand not holding the phone.

Finally, perhaps the worst thing people do with personal devices is use them in their cars.

Talking on the phone while driving is bad enough — though I confess, I do that myself — but now we have people texting and checking Facebook. Since this is extremely dangerous, not to mention against the law, many drivers compromise by using their devices only while stopped at a red light (even though that’s illegal, too). The result is that they get absorbed in what’s on the screen and don’t pay attention to the light.

I guess that’s what horns are for. But it would be nice if people who use a device in the car were required to display their phone number, so you could send them a text when they’re holding up traffic.

Maybe something like, “Hey, Dude, move your nevermind.”

Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and the author of “Family Man: The Art of Surviving Domestic Tranquility,” available at Books for Less and on Amazon. Email Rob at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter @familymanrob.