By Breck Hapner
May 13, 2014
By Mariann Main
Everyone who knows me often grumbles that I am “technology challenged.” There is no denying the truth of that statement. The laptop used to compose this weekly column is considered “ancient” at 14 years. An antenna to receive local television programs discreetly adorns my roof, rather than paying a monthly ransom to a monopolistic cable kingpin.
My car is nearing 200K, and just had the transmission replaced. That is my personal punishment for keeping an auto too long. Soon I will have a “new car” since this one has almost been rebuilt, but that is wishful thinking. As with the other three previous cars I have owned and kept beyond their usefulness, there is always something else with an “old car” needing repair.
And finally, I am one of the few who still has a telephone land-line versus being completely dependent upon my cellular. Yes, I am paying a grossly inflated monthly bill to another corporate-giant communications company for that luxury. But I would rather have at least one telephone that functions if there is no electricity rather, than possess the latest high-tech cellular phone and a charger that are worthless without power.
However, during an election year, having a land-line without “caller ID” is problematic since the automated calls promoting various political candidates are flooding my home number. My friends know when reaching me via the house telephone, they need to identify themselves quickly. If there is any hesitation or “pregnant pause” before speaking, usually signifying a forthcoming recorded message, down goes my telephone receiver without hesitation. Calling my cellular for now might be a better option.
There are aspects of life I fail to comprehend, especially specific to our societal infatuation with technology. Sometimes it is difficult to understand the actions of people, even with my training as a counselor, and how technology has become more important than human relations. Considering my experience interacting with others both personally and professionally, comprehending human behavior should be easier, but I am finding the opposite, especially as technology continues to intercede.
Going to the gym has been a regimented routine for me since attending The Ohio State University. Now, I dread the visits, similar to my dislike of watching network news, as mentioned a few weeks ago. Trips to the gym have become entertaining, but for all of the wrong reasons. The words “freak show” come to mind, due to the outrageous attire, or lack of it, the abundance of tattoos, and most annoying of all, the overuse of cellular devices.
A few days ago, I was in the women’s locker-room of close proximity to the sauna and toilets. Into this area walked a young woman immersed in her cellular conversation. The amazement of the situation was her progression into a stall, where the conversation continued. After flushing, out she emerged still talking, never having “missed a beat,” or in her case, a word.
Are we so busy that excusing ourselves from a conversation for a few minutes to attend to bodily functions has become too inconvenient for our schedules? How self-absorbed are we that using the toilet must be a shared event? Or is there no privacy any longer in society?
Considering the over-publicity of every life aspect of so many Hollywood starlets or stars, I am beginning to realize that “nothing is sacred.” Between social media and a seeming insatiable need for attention, I am numb to the latest celebrity who seeks publicity for the most mundane item involving their life, that has somehow been classified newsworthy.
My other hesitation of going to the gym is how long it now takes for the completion of a work-out. The vast majority of those “working out” are either talking on their cellular devices while occupying the various machines, or are in a constant need to check text messages. Some of these multi-tasking members sit for an extended time while manipulating their cellular devices or continuing an ongoing conversation. Trying to get their attention, letting them know that others would appreciate using a machine before the gym closes, borders on a Herculean effort, since anyone tethered to a device seems immersed in their own world of cellular isolation and are oblivious to others.
The airlines have proposed sporadically that conversations using cellular devices should be allowed mid-flight. Somehow public opinion has opposed this addition to an already-stressful flying experience. Maybe banning cellular devices at gyms would be an equally beneficial mandate. This would allow patrons with the goal to exercise minimal waiting versus the inconsiderate conversationalists or text junkies who often now monopolize the equipment.
If cellular devices were banned at gyms, in-person conversations possibly would occur again. Also there would be a renewed effort to make eye contact rather than immersed in a land of cellular engrossed zombies. And maybe while the gyms are revamping their cellular policies, implementing a dress-code would be much appreciated. Don’t remind me. It’s more of my tendency for wishful thinking.
As continuation of the monthly awareness themes from a few columns ago, May is designated as “Stroke Awareness Month.” Surprisingly the occurrence of a stroke has become more prevalent with younger Americans. Now, one of every ten stroke victims is between the ages of 20 and 50. The acronym for identifying a stroke is “FAS” for Facial droop, Arm numbness or radiating pain, and Speech impairment. If these symptoms occur either singularly or in combination, immediate transport to a hospital is necessary to lessen the potential for death or permanent impairment.
Mariann Main is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Ohio and a Delaware native. She can be reached directly with commentary or questions via MariannMain@GMail.com.