Right after Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, his business partners said, "Nice gizmo Alex, now how can we get this telephone thing to invade everyone's lives at inopportune times?" And so began the invention of the electronic tether, which makes it impossible to hide from work and from annoying calls at home. But, on the plus side, it lets us surf the web to find our cubic zirconium options on the Home Shopping Network.
In the beginning, there were pagers. Usually reserved for people engaged in life or death occupations — doctors, lawyers, tax accountants, janitors, and the like — pagers were a status symbol when they first appeared. Then things got out of hand. Everyone got pagers. We here at the Odd Parity Communications Research Center once read a story about a farmer who had trained a cow to come in for milking when her pager went off. And because all the other cows respected the one with the pager, they'd follow. All the farmer had to do was dial the number and voila! The herd came marching in.
As we all know, things snowballed from there. First, there were personal digital assistants (PDAs). This acronym is problematic because it also stands for "public displays of affection." With today's smart phone technology, people can now stand in Times Square and use their PDAs to participate in a PDA, if you get my drift.
Then the PDA evolved into a smart phone, which gets its smarts by draining intelligence and judgment from the user.
Oh sure, surfing the web, playing games and texting is great when you're in a place where it makes sense. But we here at the Odd Parity Auto Safety Department are amazed at how many people do all these things while they're driving. Here's a tip: if you're hurtling down a freeway at 70 MPH, you might want to consider controlling the deadly missile you're driving rather than typing some drivel that could wait until you get to where you're going. At best, if you text and drive, you might make an embarrassing typo. At worst, you could wipe out a family whose only mistake was trying to go out for pizza at the same time a typing imbecile was flying down the road.
Maybe Driver's Ed has to be modified for those whose IQ is that of pocket lint. Or maybe we could have electromagnetic fields surround drivers so they can't use the damn things when they're driving.
We'll eventually figure all this out, I guess. But this evolving invasion is taking its toll. Not too long ago, we were in Quebec City in a little bistro that looked like it could have been nestled on a back street in Paris. The rust colored walls and dim lights gave a gauzy cast to the room making it look like a Van Gogh painting. Then a woman sat next to me, pulled out her smart phone, and after making a few thundering grunts of disapproval, proceeded to have a loud, angry conversation with her accountant. If Van Gogh had been there, he'd have strolled over and cut off her ear.
Well that about wraps up this Odd Parity. I'm texting this as I commute and I'm coming to a stop sign. My phone is playing my boss' ring tone, which tells me that he needs to talk. I'd better take this. I'm on a short leash.
By Mike Donlin.
Mike does technical, marketing and creative writing for The Write Solution, his freelance business. He can help your company wend its way through the vagaries of the English language, and prides himself on his intimate knowledge of gerunds, semicolons and dipthongs. If you'd like Mike to pen a tome on a timely technical topic, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-889-4955.