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Fife would have checked himself into rehab if he had seen some- one from Mayberry walking through Crowley’s Market jabber- ing away into a Bluetooth headset. We are so wound up communicating instantaneously that we often don’t pay attention to what we say. Or worse, we com- municate for communication’s sake. Just think of the meetings you’ve attended where people who have waited in silence for hours suddenly have to make and receive telephone calls “that just can’t wait.” Remember those times you’ve sat down to eat at a restaurant and suddenly half of the diners have to take or make a call to Uncle Joe and Aunt Josie and vividly recount the nuances of re- cent hemorrhoid surgery? Or the golfer in the foursome whose smartphone rings every other hole or dings with an email or text? Alexander Graham Bell should be turning in his grave! Like the man who was starving and forgot his manners, in- stant communication is making the human race a bit less civil. How many public gatherings have you attended or meetings have you sat down to that have been interrupted by those irri- tating ring tones? Or better still, you’re at the dinner theatre with your spouse and the woman be- side you has a purse from which reverberates Andy Williams crooning “Moon River.” Our global access isolates

us even in crowded situations. Conferences designed to bring together people with common business — like our various county official association meetings or legislative sessions — often dissolve into dozens of likeminded individuals squawk- ing into smartphones, totally oblivious to the colleague three feet away. Speakers often encounter audiences divided into cell phone users and text message senders. If Abraham Lincoln had to deliver his Gettysburg Address today, there probably would not be enough people paying attention to the speech to warrant copying down his words. Communication in real time has been a human goal since our ancestors first drew on cave walls. History itself is full of blun- ders that occurred because of untimely information. Imagine if Andrew Jackson and his British counterparts British Army Gen. Edward Pakenham and Royal Navy Adm. Alexander Cochrane at New Orleans had cell phones or e-mail. Tey would have found out the War of 1812 was over and the peace treaty had been signed two weeks earlier. Jackson would have been de- prived of a great military victory; Jimmy Driftwood, an Arkan- sas high school principal and history teacher, would not have written that neat song “Battle of New Orleans” that Johnny Horton recorded and won the 1959 Grammy Award for Best Country and Western performance; and a couple of thousand British soldiers would not have had such a bad day.

ell phones are ubiquitous; they are everywhere. And although most users think they have good mobile manners, many people re- port being irritated or annoyed by the use of the phones in public places.


Popular entertainment took communications to icon status.

Dick Tracey hunted down bad guys using his 2-Way Wrist Ra- dio while Captain Kirk used his communicator to have Scotty “beam” him up to the Starship Enterprise. And then there was Agent 86 Maxwell Smart who consistently goofed things up in his fight against the evil forces of KAOS, but by using his “shoe- phone” his partner, Agent 99, always managed to bail him out of his disasters. Life does imitate art. American composer and songwriter Cole Porter once musi- cally mused, “a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking. But now, anything goes.” If Mr. Porter was to point his composing at today’s mobile digital culture, the “glimpse of stocking” might have been “text while walking.” Te whole concept of “mobile etiquette” may be looked upon with a bit of snarkiness by today’s mobile generation. No one in a group of Gen X’ers gathered around a table all on their smart- phones would consider any of the others rude. As Mr. Porter implies, as times change so do societal behavioral norms. But I believe it should always be the norm to be polite — never rude. Surveys concerning mobile etiquette seem to uncover the unwill- ingness of people to admit their own misuse of mobile technology while pointing the “accusation finger” at most others. But that does not make the statement, “It’s only rude if someone else is doing it,” true. Te truth is, if it’s rude for someone else, it’s rude for you, too. Cell phones are ubiquitous;

they are everywhere. And al- though most users think they have good mobile manners, many people report being ir- ritated or annoyed by the use

of the phones in public places. Clearly there’s a lack of understanding of what is and is not acceptable in terms of cell phone etiquette. I’m not going to start a long list of do’s and don’ts because I believe good cell phone etiquette is similar to common courtesy. Conversations and text exchanges have a tendency to distract people from what’s happening in front of them. Cell phone users should be thoughtful, courteous and respectful of the people around them. I don’t propose that we become communication Luddites. In- stant information access saves lives, builds economies, helps us perform our jobs more efficiently and contributes to our general well being. However, there are times when we should turn off the technology and re-engage in face-to-face conversation. Tere are other times when we need to cease the information flow and just be silent for a while. One of my favorite Old Testament scriptures is one of the Psalmist David, “Be still and know …”

See “CHANGING” on Page 22 >>> 21

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