I first noticed how utterly annoying mobile phones had become some years ago in a visit to New York City. Of the multitudes of people traversing the streets of Manhattan, a troubling large percentage walked with heads down, engaging the little screens seemingly oblivious to the masses around them. Walk through any airport and you’ll see a similarly large percentage of heads down, absorbed in the screen. Worse is drivers you pass, phone up, pecking away.
Jason Gay who writes about sports at the Wall Street Journal captures this wonderfully:
Everybody knows that smart phones have inhaled civilization; sure, there’s a certain, breathtaking level of convenience, and Boggle for the iPhone deserves a Nobel Prize, but it’s time to admit that we’re all incurably addicted, that we look like hapless zombies pecking at them all day, and would probably be at least 80% happier if we drove to the nearest bridge and chucked it in the river. We’re losing our ability to socialize and even speak—phones ruin dinners, meetings, weddings and even honeymoons, to say nothing of the deadly crazies who break them out in the driver’s seat.
But there is one place on earth, one blessed place, where people take a trek back in time and must endure existence without the mobile umbilical cord. It is no surprise that this place is steeped in tradition, even to the point, horror of horrors, of not allowing women to become members! It is Augusta National Golf Club, the site of this week’s first major golf tournament, The Masters, and Mecca for golfers all over the world, almost hallowed ground.
Fortunately those backward looking troglodytes who run The Masters (I don’t know how many references I heard and read this past week to the 50s, as if that decade were the Dark Ages), there is a no mobile phone policy. That’s right, no one is allowed on the grounds during Master’s week with a phone. Sneak one in, get caught and you’ll be escorted out never to return. Gay’s piece does a masterful job, pun intended, of capturing just how addicted we’ve all become to these devices.
Masters fans—patrons, sorry—take this admonition seriously. They leave the phones in their car, embarking on a very strange 21st century experience of spending long hours without earth’s most inescapable technology. They look at things—with their eyes. They solve questions—by asking nearby human beings. They come up with clever comments and somehow survive without offering them to the world in 140 characters.
Read it all. It’s a perceptive take on a slice of the current cultural zeitgeist.