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Can you hear him now? Hopefully not

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Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. Ancient proverb

Today I write about civility and cell phones. I practice one but don’t have the other.

That’s right, I don’t own, and never had, a cell phone! When others hear of this, their first reaction is shock and disbelief, perhaps some concern about my sanity and ability to function, but then follows a hint of admiration and the sincere wish that they, too, could do without their devices. But they can’t, and maybe you can’t either.

You probably heard about Patti LuPone, a theatrical veteran now starring in “Shows for Days” at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center. An audience member was texting away during the performance, until Ms. LuPone, apparently staying in character but fit to be tied, snatched the phone from her, making the standard standing ovation at the curtain call truly deserved. This reminded me of the time I saw a musical, I think it was “Billy Elliot,” when a bunch of teenagers had their screens lit up during most of the first act. When the house manager chastised them at intermission, I learned that their parents were present, but, wisely and safely, several rows away.

Aside from the self-absorbed rudeness, I wonder why anyone would spring for a high-priced ticket to a show that they didn’t seem to have much interest in. Not to mention the warnings, both written and verbal, to turn off your cell phones.

Then there was the guy at “Hand to God” at the Booth who jumped up on the stage prior to the start of the show in an attempt to recharge his cell phone with an electrical outlet on the set. By the way, it didn’t work – the outlet was a fake.

Look around you, people, just about everyone’s eyes are focused on their cell phones, walking, driving, crossing the street, at the dinner table, and just about everywhere.

Remember the first time you thought someone was talking to himself when he was really just on the phone. And these “private” conversations are not conducted in a whisper, they’re loud enough for everyone to share in them. Anyway, talking on the phone may be the last thing you do these days – it’s all about texting and taking photos.

Stephen King, the prolific author, wrote a story called “Cell.”

Its basic premise is that a mysterious signal to all cell phones worldwide turns all users into mindless zombie types. Only those non-users are spared. Look for the soon-to-be-released motion picture starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson to find out if there’s a happy ending. And, guess what, King is not a cell phone owner.

Many articles now appear about today’s lack of personal contact and communication, and there are even therapists who will try to cure you of the addiction to your devices.

I call a lot of cell phone numbers from my law office. Most of the time it goes into voice mail, and I’ll be fortunate to get a return call in a day or two. On the other hand, I don’t have a cell phone, but I am very reachable. Try me.

Contact Ron Hellman at rbhofc@gmail.com

Posted 12:00 am, July 25, 2015
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