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Another blow for womankind

My transition from hip, cool Baby Boomer to doddering old lady has been marked by a series of horrifying incidents. The first was when the child in the ticket booth at the movie theatre sold me a senior’s ticket without my asking, and despite the fact that I am obviously barely old enough to drink legally. Then, there was the time the lady at Shoppers Drug Mart gently suggested I might qualify for their seniors’ discount.

cell phone 4The latest blow to my fragile ego came this week when I purchased a new cell phone—not a Smart phone which I’m too stupid to figure out—but a basic, no-frills device designed for infrequent users like me. While I own a cell phone, I rarely use it and have never figured out the rest of the world’s addiction to the eyes-down, thumbs-constantly-engaged lifestyle. My old cell phone died after years of boredom and lack of use, so, I went to Walmart and purchased a new one for $19.95. After removing layers of packaging the size of a bread box, I unveiled my new flip-phone. To my horror, I’d purchased the dummies version which was slightly bigger than my old one, with large numbers that can be read from across a football field.

Hello? Operator?
Hello? Operator?

My new cell phone is a simple device designed for a simple mind. And I like it. Just don’t ask me to text, swipe merchandise for a price check or even activate the voice mail feature. In fact, if you call me on my cell, you’ll probably get no answer as I rarely turn it on. No worries about me talking and texting while driving or having lunch with my Boomer gal pals. But, it’s there in my purse and always charged up in case my car breaks down, or I do. Old things have a tendency to do just that and this old lady may no longer be hip or cool but she is packin’. I’m no dummy. And, thank goodness Walmart still takes good, old-fashioned cash.

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Thank you for no smart phones at the table this Thanksgiving

The sad, current state of personal communication.
The sad, current state of personal communication.

My art instructor posted an interesting photograph on her Facebook page the other day. It showed half a dozen teenagers sitting on a bench in front of a famous masterpiece at an art gallery. Every single one of them was looking down at their smart phones, oblivious to each other and their backs to the artwork. We witness similar scenarios every day; a group of people sitting around the table in a food court or coffee shop, individually intently texting or reading something on their personal device instead of engaging in real, personal conversation, the kind that involves interrupting each other’s sentences, group laughter and touching one another’s arms or shoulders in warm recognition and affection.

I’m getting really tired of the slavish devotion to smart phones. We actually managed to exist quite well before they were invented and while I applaud their benefits, let’s rein in the addiction a bit. When I’m having lunch with you, or any meal for that matter, I do not care that your grandchild wants you to know what he or she is eating, doing or thinking at that very moment. I do not want to see pictures of your son’s new deck or your husband’s trip to Home Depot for paint. Unless a close family member or friend is on their deathbed, put your phone to bed.

Thank you for our blessings.
Thank you for our blessings.

When my husband and I were visiting war cemeteries in France and Belgium last fall, we were shocked and heartbroken to see a group of teenage students on a field trip to the sacred Tyne Cot cemetery climbing one of the larger monuments to squeal and pose while they took selfies of each other. Does no one realize there is a time and a place for everything?

As we gather around the table for Thanksgiving dinner this year, let’s turn off our phones, turn on the conversation and enjoy our bounty in person. Living in the best country in the world, we have so much to be thankful for: a democracy (including a soon-to-be-over-with election campaign, thank you), our friends and family, plenty of food to eat, healthcare, community and so many other blessings. Let’s do it the old fashioned-way this Thanksgiving dinner. We’ll talk, laugh, make eye contact, hug and share. And for those blessings alone we should be truly thankful.

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