Wednesday, January 4, 2012

We’re in for generational warfare, and I’m on the side of the ‘old farts’

Talking on a phone in the car has come a long way
I’m not a kid anymore.

That concept got reinforced on Tuesday when I learned that Illinois state Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, talked of the chances of banning cellular telephones outright in automobiles.

FOR THE RECORD, Cullerton says he does not expect that to happen anytime soon. Although he won’t be surprised if it is an issue that the Illinois General Assembly will someday take up.

When it does, we’re in for a serious battle of the generations. I couldn’t help but notice in the couple of hours after stories started cropping up on the Internet about Cullerton’s comments, one anonymous person went so far as to characterize a ban on cellphones while driving as being the same as banning breathing while driving.

To me, that is pure nonsense.

In fact, to me, the idea of not using a cellphone while in the car makes all the sense in the world – particularly since I have noticed the number of times that drivers who were busy yakking away on their hand-held communications devices weren’t paying attention and would have hit me had I not managed to engage in a sudden maneuver.

AS FAR AS I’m concerned, I actually have one of those devices in my own car that lets me talk on my cellular telephone without holding it in my hands (it was a birthday gift from my brother a couple of years ago).

Yet I rarely use it, preferring to ignore most calls to me while driving (I call them back once I get to where I’m going).
CULLERTON: Predicting cellphone fate?

On those rare occasions when it is someone whom I do need to talk to, right there and then, I pull over to the side of the road and stop (which led to one recent story I reported, in part, for an area newspaper from the side of Interstate 80 just outside of Joliet), then talk.

In short, I will have no problem complying with the idea that using a cellular phone in the car is absurd.

BUT I CAN also tell that this will be a generational thing. There will be the younger crowd that just won’t get it. They’re going to be prepared to fight and shout and scream that it is their “constitutional right” to talk on the phone, or use it to send text messages, or whatever, at whenever the urge strikes them.

It is something I have noticed with my oldest nephew, who is 17. That kid spends a lot of his time locked up in his bedroom. If one didn’t know better, they’d think he was some sort of anti-social, serial killer-the-making, plotting some diabolical scheme all by himself.

Actually, he’s texting constantly with his friends, who are all scattered at their own homes. They’re in constant contact with each other at all times, able to engage in friendly banter and sarcastic wisecracking – just like we all do in groups of REAL people.

I’ve even noticed on those occasions when he comes out of the room, with the texting still going. He even texts during meals. Or tries to, anyway.

IT SEEMS LIKE holiday celebrations lately have turned into my father (my nephew’s grandfather) berating him for texting while eating.

My point is that I doubt my nephew is alone. There are going to be a lot of people who are going to think that this is some sort of serious intrusion on their personal lives by telling them where their cellular telephones can (and cannot) be used.

Even though personally, I consider the cellular telephone itself to be the serious intrusion on my own personal life. As though some people think they have the right to speak to me whenever it is to their convenience.

It’s not like we haven’t had similar situations in the past.

I CAN RECALL just over a decade ago when the Illinois General Assembly passed bills that placed restrictions on where, in public, people can use laser pointers.

We got to hear legislators get all indignant about people imposing their own warped  sensibilities on all of us (I still remember the tale of a person who was using his pointer in a movie theater to show his friends all the traces of nipples and genitalia on the screen).

Then later, I got to hear from people who said that laser pointers are “fun” and that someone who can’t stand having a private part or two pointed out should learn to “lighten up.” I will be curious to see how this issue (which has been recommended nationally by the National Transportation Safety Board) plays out in coming years, although nine states already have such cellphone bans.

Are we going to hear some variation on “lighten up” in defense of cellphones in the cars? Have I really become the grouchy old man because I can side with such a ban?


1 comment:

Jack Leyhane said...

I read this essay with interest, although I respectfully disagree. I responded to this post on Page Two of my blog today.

Here is a link to my post.