Apr 8, 2014 17:21 Smartphones tearing apart fabric of society Smartphones tearing apart fabric of society by William O. Bonin| Special to The Advocate April 08, 2014 Comments This column usually offers a bit of nostalgia from the distant past. I’m nostalgic for the relatively recent time before people became obsessed with mobile devices, a time when they interacted with each other because they wanted to and not just because they could through the use of a hand-held device. The device that causes me the most consternation is, of course, the ubiquitous smartphone. The first cellphone came into being about 1973. It was clunky thing and didn’t get much attention until it became lighter, smaller and sleeker. I didn’t have one, but I recall those who did priding themselves on having the lightest, thinnest and prettiest phone available. The modern smartphone came along about 2007 and since then they have proliferated in all sizes, shapes and colors. They were snapped up like toys and the fabric of society, as I knew it, started to disintegrate. They ushered in a unique wave of strange and sometimes rude behavior. Phones that should be turned off at concerts blink like fireflies in the audience. People who wouldn’t think of walking away from you mid-sentence will pull out a phone and start talking in front of you because they can’t miss a single call. People in a crowded waiting room think nothing of making a call and subjecting everyone to a loud inane one-way conversation. And there’s always someone on a plane who has to be told three times to stop talking because the plane is taking off. Imagine what it will be like if the FAA allows the guy next to you to talk nonstop on a long flight. Both drivers and pedestrians alike are addicted to the device. Louisiana law prohibits texting while driving, but I’ve seen it being done. Holding a phone while driving is almost as dangerous, but our lawmakers won’t outlaw it because they want to do it. I’ve often sat at a traffic light fearing an approaching driver holding a phone wouldn’t stop. Once I had to blow my horn to get a driver’s attention. Increasingly, people in large cities are walking into traffic while talking and texting. People are starting to recognize they’re addicted to their phones, but they won’t stop using them. There are smartphone apps for just about everything, one of which tells people how to simplify their lives. I wonder if they recommend not using the phone so much. Space doesn’t permit a discussion of all the other devices to which people are addicted. iPads consume a lot of time, but aren’t as intrusive. People run around with earbuds listening to music and wearing all manner of gadgets to measure steps, heart rate, blood pressure and God knows what else. There is even a fork with software that tells you when you have eaten enough and a toothbrush that tells you if you’ve brushed property. The next must-have device will be Google Glass, eyeglasses that keep you constantly in touch with important events, such as news of Justin Bieber, and will be able to take pictures at your command. So much for privacy in the restroom. I’m a Luddite, a harmless dinosaur roaring against phones. People won’t stop using them, but they should be more caring. Will this have any effect? No. But at least I’ve had my say. Advocate readers may submit stories of about 500 words to the Human Condition at email@example.com or The Advocate, EatPlayLive, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810. There is no payment, and stories will be edited.