The beeper cacophony
By Walter Brasch
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Mar 2, 2009, 00:12
Barack Obama was determined that the only way anyone was
going to take away his BlackBerry was if they pried it from his cold dead
hands. Or, something to that effect.
The president justifiably relies upon his BlackBerry, but
many rely upon electronic communications as a status symbol or as a crutch so
they don�t have to make decisions or engage in face-to-face conversations. Such
was the case at a party I thought I might have attended.
It might have been an enjoyable party, but I didn�t
experience much of it since pagers, cell phones, Palm Treos, and BlackBerries
were going off all evening, and all I heard were excuses of why used car
salesmen, real estate agents, and grocery store clerks had to break off
conversations to answer the calls of nature.
�So, what�s your sign?� a striking brunette asked me, only
to excuse herself when one of her cell phones chimed some hip-hop music.
Apparently her sign was Ice-T, with AT&T rising.
The knock-out redhead and I talked for three minutes before
she got an urgent text message to alert her to call her service which relayed a
poke from her boss who wanted to know what color dress she was wearing to work
the next day so he�d be able to color coordinate his staff. At least that�s
what I think she said, but I wasn�t sure because she was text-messaged 13 words
into our conversation and spent much of the evening exercising not her mind but
The junior high school English teacher was paged, unleashed
his cell phone, checked something he called an �app,� and told his friend that
his Treo just informed him that the temperature in Phoenix was 86.
An attractive blonde in the corner lusciously smiled at me,
teasing me with a come-hither look. I was about to come, but she got tweeted. I
had no idea whether that�s sensual or not, but it compelled her to rush off
into a dark corner and twitter back. I think she kept twittering until a failed
whale shut down her system.
While waiting for a movie usher and waitress who
simultaneously excused themselves when they were tagged by a Facebook request,
I overhead three people by the bar ask each other what our hostess must have
been thinking to have actually invited someone so low on the prestige scale
that he wasn�t wearing any electronic devices.
�Could be a diversity thing,� said one politically correct
matron. �You know, we invite a Black and a luddite columnist to our party.�
Feeling alone and needing a drink, I asked the bartender for
a virgin pi�a colada, but before she could crush the ice, she received a text
message from Starbutt across the room who needed two whiskey sours with a twist
of lemon. When Starbutt, Bartender Jo, and 832 of their closest friends
finished texting each other, I got a glass of diluted pineapple juice with a
trace of coconut.
After an hour of watching the Information Age, I noticed
another soul all by himself.
�Interesting party,� I said opening the conversation.
�Yeah,� he mumbled. �I just hope I get some action tonight.�
�Since everyone�s poking everyone else,� I said. �I doubt
there�s much action anyway, especially when everyone seems to be so Linked-in
that they have blurred the lines between business and personal lives.�
�That�s what I mean,� he said. �It�s now been 27 minutes,
and no one has called or IM�d me. It�s so humiliating.�
Not having done my good deed for the day, I sighed, and
shuffled off to find the only landline telephone in two counties. He answered
his cell phone and chatted with me about the price of kumquats. He was most
thankful, especially when I didn�t try to talk to him again so he could carry
on simultaneous conversations with the striking brunette, the knock-out
redhead, and some guy who was selling life insurance.
About the time I was ready to leave, the hostess told me I
had a telephone call. It was Marshbaum wanting to know if I needed him to come
in early the next day. �How�d you find me?� I asked.
�I was driving along Route 11 finding dumb things for you to
write when I thought I should check in. So I called Horsehide who paged Littany
who text messaged Bullnose who poked Chartbound who said you were at some
muck-a-muck�s party, so I called Ringtone.�
�You have a car phone?� I asked.
�Car phone? Don�t be ridiculous. That�s so �90s. Got a G3
cell with Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, PDA, MP3, MP4, 6 gig Mpx, and packet switching.
Also a pager, FAX, laptop computer, and portable satellite dish. Also running a
CB, good buddy. Gotta be on top of things in case you need a dumb statement at
a moment�s notice.�
�When�s the last time I needed you moments from deadline?� I
�Makes no difference,� he said. �Sometime you may,
and you�ll be happy you could get to me.�
�That�s all well and good, but I don�t have any of
those communications devices.�
�Check your office in the morning, Boss. Got some nice units
for you, too. It�ll only cost you a thousand or so a month to find me.�
�Marshbaum!� I shouted, �I don�t have an extra thousand a
month to pay for cellular phones, paging equipment��
�No problem, Boss. Got a great two-year plan, and it�s all
Brasch is professor of mass communications and journalism at Bloomsburg
University. He says he communicates with news sources the old-fashioned way�he
shows up on their doorsteps early in the morning, and unstrings a series of
questions before they get their first cup of coffee. You may contact Dr. Brasch
or through his website, walterbrasch.com.
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