Not really, but after I came up with the title I couldn’t let it go.
In her column this morning, she gave voice to a relationship I’ve also given some thought to: wealth enables connectivity, and connectivity enables rudeness. My favorite passage:
Technology has not helped in this area. Cellphones are wonderful, but they empower the obnoxious and amplify the ignorant. Once they kept their thoughts to themselves. They had no choice. Now they have cellphones, into which they bark, “I’m on line at Duane Reade. Yeah. Ex-Lax.” Oh, thank you for sharing. How much less my life would be if I didn’t know.
BlackBerrys empower the obsessed. We wouldn’t have them if the economy weren’t high and we weren’t pretty well off. Once, a political figure in New York invited me to a private dinner. I was seated next to him, and as the table conversation took off he leaned back, quietly took out his BlackBerry, and began to scroll. It occurred to me that if I said something live in person, it would not be as interesting to him as if I’d BlackBerryed him. It occurred to me that if I wanted to talk to him I’d have to BlackBerry him and say, “Please talk to me.” And then he would get the message.
So because she thought of it and I’ve thought of it too, she’s obviously a person of considerable intelligence. Heh.
The current state of the American economy is the greatest story never told. We have a president who is admittedly and inordinately easy to pummel on any number of issues, and what’s getting by in the whole process is that things are great in the pocketbook right now. We have record low unemployment, a record high Dow, a housing bubble that never quite seems to burst, favorable interest rates, record revenue into the treasury, and so on. $3 gasoline is a much smaller deal than it would be were all this not the case.
The proliferation of hyperconnectivity would be impossible without this strong economy. Many of us carry incredibly sophisticated communications devices with us everywhere we go, and give it little thought. If your wish is that you can’t not be reached, it’s trivially easy to fulfill. Such has led to some abhorrent social behavior. Do you not realize, ma’am, that thumbing away at your BlackBerry in a meeting for an extended period is no less offensive than pulling out a magazine? Do you not realize, sir, that there is no need for you to speak any more loudly into the mouthpiece of your cell phone than there is for you to speak for a person sitting across the table from you?
I think wealth envy is silly, and that’s not what this is. Dude, it doesn’t bother me that you’re rich—it bothers me that you’re rude. I assure you, nobody in Viet Huong gives a rat’s ass what your portfolio is doing, who your assistant is banging, or about the level of your disbelief at what an oil change for your Lexus costs. (You think it’s unnoticed that you don’t talk nearly as loudly when you’re just chatting with your wife about what she needs you to pick up at the grocery store on the way home?) Shut the fuck up and eat your pho, and I’ll do the same. You can talk on the phone at the top of your lungs all you like on your drive back to work. (Naturally, that won’t happen; no audience.)
I’ve only just started carrying my cell phone with me everywhere—as in I wasn’t doing so even six months ago. I’m still getting used to it, though it’s been mostly all right. (I do always set it to a Quiet profile in restaurants.) And I have no desire to check my email any more often than I do. As it is, I hit my various inboxes no less than hourly, continuously, for nearly two-thirds of my life. That is accessible enough. I could easily have a BlackBerry, an iPhone, or any other omnionline combo phone/PDA, tomorrow. I don’t want one, and I sincerely hope I’m never asked to carry one. I like that my phone and my PDA are two different things.
These are tremendous conveniences, but there is nothing magical about them that supersedes decorum.
Thanks to kepplerspeakers.com for the Peggy Noonan image. Thanks to discoverblackberry.com for the BlackBerry image.
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