The New York Daily News and various other media outlets recently reported on how Kevin Williamson, a columnist for the National Review and theater critic, became so annoyed by the chattering of a woman on her cell phone during a performance of a musical in New York that he grabbed her phone and threw it across the room.
According to accounts, Williamson initially complained about the woman to theater ushers to no avail. So out of desperation, he took matters into his own hands. Literally. For that, he received a slap in face. The lady then stalked off to try to find her phone, threatening to file charges along the way; Williamson apparently has not been arrested for anything yet.
“There are … the aggressively rude and obnoxious people who use their phones when they know they shouldn't," he told the Daily News.
He also said he does not regret his actions at all. Using the vernacular of the theater, I say: Bravo, Mr. Williamson!
I have wished to do the exact same thing many, many times -- in the cinema, in museums, in restaurants, in trains, at the airport, in bars, in cafes, in stores, and any other public place where obnoxious, selfish, oblivious, idiotic, vulgar people congregate and feel the need to publicize the mundane details of their sorry, pathetic lives.
Cell phones, once a technological breakthrough, have become a scourge, and have largely outlived their usefulness and purpose. Walk down any city street, anytime of day or night, and what does one see? At least half the pedestrians yammering on their cell phones -- even while they are engaged in other activities, like walking a dog, pushing a baby pram, or carrying groceries, etc.
I have seen couples chattering separately on their phones, while ostensibly sharing “quality time” together. I have seen people on their phones in busy, noisy streets choked with traffic. How can they even hear the other person? I have even seen people speaking on phones at 6 a.m. Who are they calling at that hour? And let’s not forget all the motorists who endanger the lives of themselves and others by talking or texting on the phone while driving.
This practice is not defined by race, ethnicity, class, or even income. I live a few blocks away from a housing project – and virtually everyone I see there has a cell phone. I can’t understand how they can afford to purchase such a device, much less maintain the monthly payments.
No matter, I wonder: Are all these conversations really necessary? Are all these chats life-or-death situations? And are cell phones really improving the overall quality of our lives?
Of course not.
Once a luxury, cell phones have somehow become a perceived necessity -- a piece of technology no man, woman or child can seemingly do without. It has become a horrid addiction to some people.
Prior to the arrival of cell phones, many people spent an excessive amount of time on their landline phones. Now, freed from the restraints of the landline, these same consumers can talk till their heart’s delight practically anywhere and anytime they want.
I believe some of these chatter-boxes are mentally ill. To them, their cell phones have become a permanent extension of their bodies, as indispensable as legs and arms. Perhaps they need constant reaffirmation that they are alive, or that they’re important.
Consider these bits of data from the good folks at Digby.com: 75 percent of Americans bring their phones to the bathroom. By the end of 2013, there will be more mobile devices on Earth than people.
Yes, you read that right. People take their phones into the john. And by the end of this year, there will be more mobile devices on this planet than people. This would presumably include hundreds of millions of infants who cannot even speak, much less hold a phone in their little hands. This strongly suggests that many people, particularly in the West, own several such phones.
Full disclosure: I, of course, have a cell phone, but I use it sparingly and rarely use it in a public place, unless it’s an extreme emergency. Basically, my fear is that one day I, too, will risk arrest by snatching a cell phone from someone’s hands and tossing it.