Saturday, February 11, 2012

Little Things Change

I have been thinking about the ways in which cell phones have changed our behavior.  I mean, besides the obnoxious habit of talking on the phone while a server is trying to take your order or ring you up, and beyond the annoying tendency to interrupt an in-person conversation to answer unimportant calls or continuously check email on a smart phone. 

I'm thinking about other, small, rather unimportant changes in how we do little day-to-day activities.  I think people have become less willing to commit to specific plans in advance.  No one wants to set a time and a place and then just show up, able to count on their friend also being in there.  Lately, I see a pattern of vague plans with a loose appointment to talk about it more later.  It get slightly more specific, but there's always an obligation to "just call each" other upon arrival to figure out how to find one other.  How silly.  Easy, I guess.  No worries about trying to be prompt or knowing anything about where you're going.  But didn't we somehow make it work before?  I can't decide if our new way is better or worse than before.  Is it less stressful?  Perhaps. 

I've spoken to so many people, lately, who can't read a map.  I'm thinking about the evolution of getting around, and it must have started with just using experience to get to know a place, and then, of course, maps helped out.  Remember Thomas guides?  Buying one was the best piece of advice I got upon arriving in Los Angeles 16 years ago.  And then, we relied on MapQuest printouts, or whatever online map service you preferred.  Now, so many people have GPS through their phones, there's no need to look up directions in advance.  But I actually like reading a map.  I like to see what the terrain in the surrounding region is like, and to search for possible alternate routes.  Their appearance on a printed page can only hint at the secrets they hold, and entice me to go off course for fun.

I think we check in with our significant others far more often.  You know, that quick call to say, "I'm leaving now, I'll be home in 20 minutes," or whatever.  Most of the time, that other person already knows you'll be heading home roughly around that time, right?  Usually unnecessary.  But I suppose it can be sweet, too.

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