Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 9, 2013

This writer is 'so 27 years ago'

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Editor’s note: Tom Valley is on vacation. This column originally ran last May.

The other day I noticed two young girls, probably in their early teens, walking down Main St. together. ‘Together’ only in the sense that they were side-by-side. Neither was paying attention to the other as both were preoccupied talking on their cell-phones to someone else.

I couldn’t help but think of Jerry Seinfeld’s comment that the reason men wanted to control the TV remote was “not to see what was on, but to see what else is on.” I had to wonder that if each of these girls were with the ones they were talking to – instead of each other – would they ignore that person and talk on the phone to the friend they were presently with? (Their body language indicated that they took delight with whom they were talking – so that ruled out their parents being on the other end of the line.)

It seems that we are living in a society that is failing to appreciate what we have in favor of finding out what we are missing.

There’s an ad on TV that shows two guys sitting in the parking lot at what looks to be a festive tailgate-party. I know it’s a commercial but it’s eerily close to life. Oblivious to the goings-on, they are mesmerized by the technical wizardry in the palm of their hands. What should be a good time of socializing with friends has been replaced with a self-imposed, fun-stealing exile from reality. They chose an isolated existence over the nuts and bolts of being alive. Why bother going anywhere else if you’re going to restrict your universe to the nearest Radio-Shack and make-believe?

Virtual reality is a contradiction of terms. The essence of reality does not involve computer simulation whatsoever.

To top this commercial off, someone enters to tell these vegetables that the information they were getting - on their gadgets – was “so 27-seconds ago.” They were behind the times … by a whopping 27 seconds. Shame on them!

You see, this is what I can’t understand: What’s the big hurry to get nowhere? I’m referring to the instant-messaging industry’s emphasis on speed. I get it, the faster the better. But split-second service has morphed into a war of splitting hairs.

The meaningless drivel that’s passed along - via Twitter, Facebook and texting - does not command the expediency that the ads have elevated it to. Frankly, nothing does.

It used to take a minute or two just to answer the phone. Was that so bad? Is half-a-minute longer such calamity? I understand the haste in an emergency or work-related issue, but people walking around with earpieces and cell phones in hand give the impression that our society is trying to augment appendages that the evolutionary process failed to provide.

We’ve done this because we’ve given an unnecessary platform to the mundane. We’ve gone from using these battery-operated devices as a convenience to a requisite preoccupation. Life is so much broader than a 3-inch screen and a tweet informing you that your friend’s tuna fish sandwich was yummy.

And you have to ask yourselves, if the time saved is so important, then why waste so much of it fiddle-fartin’ with these time-bandits in the first place? Smell the roses, breathe the air and enjoy the pleasures around you. Added benefit: no batteries required.

And that’s the way it looks from the Valley.

Tom Valley’s column runs every Wednesday. Contact him at tvalley@rochester.rr.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Tom Valley is on vacation. This column originally ran last May.

Tom Valley's column runs every Wednesday. Contact him at tvalley@rochester.rr.com.