Friday, November 7, 2008

Mark's Soapbox

I knew there was a reason I lived in a small town.

Yesterday I had no evening meetings and community theater play practice was cancelled for the evening. This meant that I had a Thursday night free. This happens increasingly less and less these days.

Back in the day when I was a carefree seminary student, there was a group of us that would get together every Thursday to watch Survivor. This morphed and changed over the years, and the location changed, but every year it was one of my favorite parts of the week. Nothing beats watching Survivor with a group of good friends as you try to figure out who is going to vote which way, who is going to get voted off next and who is going to win. Well, I suppose there are some things that beat that, but it's pretty cool, I have to say.

Some of my best friends from seminary, and most of the original group of seminary Survivor watchers that I was a part of, have moved closer to me than they previously were. So we have started getting together to watch Survivor, and I attend when my schedule allows. Because I have been involved in community theater here, and Thursday is one of the nights of the week that we have practice, I have not been able to attend. But, as I already mentioned, last night was a free night. So I took advantage of it.

I left my house at 4:30pm yesterday. According to Mapquest, my friends live approximately 64 miles away from me. So it's a bit of a drive but worth it to spend time with good friends - especially now since gas dipped below 2 bucks a gallon.

I arrived at my friends' house at 6:30pm. Two hours later. Traffic was horrible and I spent a lot of time craaaaaaaaawling along the road, if I was lucky to be moving at all. It made me realize what I like so much about living here in a small town where a traffic jam means four cars arriving at the four way stop at the same time.

Since I'm complaining already (and since this is my blog and I can complain all I want), I thought I'd bring something else up that bugs me. That is cellphones. Well, to be honest, I have mixed feelings about them. I appreciate their convenience and how they make communication quick and easy. However, I do not like how people feel they have to be attached to them 24/7. If they're not talking on them, they're texting someone. If they're not texting someone, they're checking their e-mail through them... And don't get me started about people who wear those bluetooth things on their ears all the time. I think we've become far too dependent on these things. For instance, at a youth event last year, the other adult leaders and I decided that we didn't want any cellphones and so we "borrowed" the phones of all the youth there. You would think I was trying to cut off their arms the way they were reacting. In fact, I'm not sure that a couple of the girls recovered. They "didn't feel well" the rest of the evening, looking very despondent when we were at the bowling alley.

At a coffee shop that I visit often, there is a sign on the counter top that says "we will be glad to serve you after you finish your cellphone conversation." I think that quite often they interfere with us being present in the moment, being aware of and interactive with our own surroundings.

And to combine these two topics, something that really rubs me the wrong way is people talking on cellphone while they're driving. Last night alone, on my way to my friends' house, I was negatively affected several times by people driving and talking on their phones. I think it's distracting to the driver, like I mentioned previously hampering them from being aware of their surroundings. I realize that their might be times when it is necessary or helpful, such as when you need directions to someplace or you are on your way somewhere and will be late or something like that, but I don't see any reason why you should just be chatting with someone while you're driving. Hang up the phone and focus on the road.

Okay, I'm putting away my soapbox now...

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