Resistance Is Futile

A lot of people complain about cell phones, how everyone has them nowadays, and how they’re so obtrusive, and how it’s rude for people to talk on the phone while they’re having dinner in restaurants, and blah blah blah, whine whine whine. I’ve noticed that these are the same people who, four years ago, were saying, “Everyone’s using the e-mail now. No one ever sits down and writes a letter the old-fashioned way. Blah blah blah, whine whine whine, let’s hitch up the buggy and go to the barn-raising.”

I don’t understand people’s dislike of cell phones. Yes, I agree that they’re annoying when they go off during movies and plays, and that in fact the people who own those phones should be shot. But aside from that, so what? If you don’t want a cell phone, don’t get one. Keep not using e-mail, too, and while you’re at it, go on bragging about how you don’t watch much TV. (The only reason people refuse to watch TV, I’m convinced, is so that they can TELL people they don’t watch TV — as if that automatically makes them smarter, like we’re going to assume that if they’re not watching TV, they must be reading great books or perfecting time travel, or something.)

Some people say cell phones are dangerous because people talk on them while they’re driving. Please. People also drive without using their turn signals. (Note to native Utahns: Many motor vehicles are now equipped with turn signals. Consult your owner’s manual! It’s fun!) And many people do not decide whether they want to turn or go straight until the light turns green, and THEN they make up their minds and try to move into the appropriate lane. These are the dangerous people, and a lot of them don’t even have regular phones, much less cell phones.

So anyway, some people are opposed to cell phones, and many of the same people are still grasping the concept that e-mail and the “Internet” (they always say it like it has quote marks around it, the same way my grandparents used to talk about “rock and roll”) are NOT going away. The Internet is a great tool, designed so that anyone with a phone line and a computer can put up a Web site containing false information that people will assume to be true because they read it on the Internet. And e-mail is extraordinarily useful, as it helps spread lies and gossip faster than anything known to man, including Homemaking meetings.

You have no doubt had e-mails forwarded to you containing tales that are supposedly true. Perhaps you have wondered whether these stories are, indeed, factual. Here’s a simple test: Ask yourself the question, “How did I find out about this?” If the answer is, “Through e-mail,” then you can rest assured that the information is false. No mass-forwarded e-mail has ever contained truth in it. In fact, e-mail is incapable of transmitting truth. There are sensors programmed into the software that automatically filter out all truth and replace it with lies, such as that some kid is dying and the American Cancer Society will donate a nickel for every person the e-mail is forwarded to, like all of a sudden the American Cancer Society is a Mafia loanshark, refusing to let the kid live unless they get a certain amount of money from anonymous donors.

So e-mail and the Internet have their drawbacks, and so do cell phones, such as when you get a call when you’re in public, and you feel all important, and then it turns out to be a wrong number. I admit that they are not perfect. But why are some people so proud of the fact that they don’t use them? What’s to be proud of? That the entire developed world is heading toward a future of faster communication and more efficient delivery of information, and you’re going to sit on the porch swattin’ skeeters? Well, go ahead, if that’s what you want. I’ll send you a postcard from the 21st century. Oh, and my best to everyone at the barn-raising.

There was, at this time, a high-level editor at the Daily Herald named Steve Cameron who would boast loudly that he never used e-mail until 1999, and that he doesn't watch much TV. This was a professional journalist, someone who is supposedly in touch with American culture. There was also a communications professor at BYU, Alf Pratte, who was the ONLY faculty member on campus without e-mail -- and he's a COMMUNICATIONS PROFESSOR, for crying out loud! I understand he finally caved in, but it was well into the 2000s.

Homemaking meetings, for you non-LDS types, are the monthly non-Sunday gatherings for the church's women's organization. (Actually, the name was changed to something else, but everyone was still calling it Homemaking at this point.) These meetings are generally geared toward, well, homemakers, and the women ostensibly learn useful skills in that department. But also they gossip and have refreshments, from what I understand.