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Posted: February 9, 2014

Rude or righteous?

By Laurie Jalbert

I never thought this day would happen. This is the day where I sound like my grandfather making a comment on the new world.

We took a trip. Hunting season is over at Cliff’s Meats so Cliff and I decided to head south for some much needed rest and relaxation. We packed up the motorbikes and hauled south to Arizona.

Now these days we don’t get off the farm much so I found it a bit disturbing to realize just how much cell phones have invaded our lives. Now Cliff is not a cell phone guy. He is a pencil behind his ear guy; he is a phone with a cord on the wall guy. He prefers an abacus to a calculator. He is apparently a dinosaur. I, on the other hand, like to think I have embraced technology.

I love to shop online, I just got a smart phone and quite like it. I don’t, however, allow it to run my life. I think you will see the next reality show features real live people who have addictions to technology that are ruining their lives. It is not far off because on this trip I saw it first hand.

We were sitting in a Mexican-type-restaurant that dots the landscape in Arizona and I looked around to see over half of the people at tables in my near vicinity were occupied with cell phones or ipads. These were not people who were sitting alone. There were other people at the table, some of them had their own phones and some were just staring off into space because their dining partner was occupied inside their computer doing whatever.

ColJalbertWhen did it become acceptable to ignore the person with whom you are breaking bread in favor of checking your e-mails, texting someone else, tweeting, or surfing the internet? Would it be appropriate to sit down with someone and open a giant newspaper in their face and proceed to read it? That simply says, “you are less important to me than whatever it is I am doing.”

When I grew up this kind of behaviour would have earned you a cuff upside the ears. It is rude. Plain rude. Still, none of these people got up and left their preoccupied dining partner. They just quietly seem to accept that is the way of the world. Why?

When did it become imperative that your friends, family or coworkers be able to contact you and have you contact them back within seconds? What is so terribly urgent that we can’t put our phones down for the short time it takes to have a meal with a real person sitting across from you and actually use words to communicate with them directly, to practise our ability to read body language and interpret tone of voice, to use all the means of communication available to us?

I fear that we will become a society of people for whom communication skills atrophy to the point of uselessness. It has come to the point where people will sit in the same room and text one another. My pet peeve is when I am in a store and waiting at a counter and as I get to the front of the line, the phone rings and the clerk answers the phone and makes me wait until they serve the phone customer. Why do they get to butt in line? Why is communication that comes via technology so important? It is so important that we put it ahead of the real life human sitting in front of us.

Answering the phone, Facebooking and texting supersede, driving and interacting one-on-one with another human. We had to make it a law to tell people that it is not a good idea to bury yourself in your phone when you are propelling a 3,000 pound piece of metal down a street at high speed where children play.

When did it become necessary to legislate what should be common sense? I have a friend who complains that she can never seem to get her house clean, that her world is chaotic and that she has no time to get things in order. This same person spends hours and hours a week on Facebook games. A time stealer at the very least and potentially dangerous.

While on our trip, we were on the bikes and I came alongside a woman who had her phone to her ear, her elbow on the steering wheel and her other hand occupied by a cigarette she was trying to manipulate towards the ashtray while talking and holding on to her phone and oh yes… driving a vehicle at highway speeds on an interstate highway.

The only thing that prevented her from having a monumental wreck was luck and luck alone.  She was a danger on the road because she could not put either her cigarette or her cell phone down or God forbid, both of them. For what? Distracted driving is killing people.

The use of technology has a place in our world, a valuable tool indeed but like any tool, it has to be used appropriately.  The misuse of it starts at the level of being plain rude and at the other end of the scale is dangerous to others.

I would like to know what you think? Am I completely off my nut? Obsolete? Behind the times?  Drop me a line at [email protected] and let me know what you think?

OK, I may sound like an antique but that is the way I see it.

LaurieJalbertLaurie Jalbert arrived to the Kootenays in 2006 as a member of the RCMP and now makes it her permanent home. Retired from the force, she is co-owner of Cliff’s Meats in Cranbrook ( She can be reached at: [email protected].

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