Pharos-Tribune

Columns

April 1, 2014

VILLAGE IDIOT: You've been invited to an anti-social

(Continued)

Is that a quote from Plato? Marcus Aurelius? Dante? Shakespeare? Shaw? Such elevated conversation, the kind that people who text and talk on their smartphones will never be able to have because they won’t have learned any of the social skills that people who grew up without smartphones and “Candy Crush” did.

My friend, Marv, is one of those who think that cellphones, texting and email are turning us into a nation of tech idiots. I was behind him at the checkout line of the supermarket last week. After first asking the clerk why two avocados cost $4.12, and then explaining that the price of the sauerkraut on the shelf was different than the price on the flier, he pulled out his wallet and found the exact bills he needed. Then he scrounged around in his pockets to find the exact change. After about 30 seconds, it turned out he didn’t have the exact change, so he put all his money back and pulled out a big bill and handed it to the cashier.

In the other lane, while all this was going on, two 20-somethings waved their smartphones at something on the counter and walked out with their purchases in 2 seconds. No printed receipt, no conversation, no polite chitchat with the cashier, no social interaction at all. Just what you’d expect from antisocial tech heads -- so unlike Marv, who was engaging the young clerk with real conversation. Behind me, some woman kept tapping her foot like she was in some kind of rush.

Just as Marv gets his receipt, she says into her cellphone, “My water just broke,” and the cashier, a 16-year-old boy, said, “You want to go back and get another?”

Marv snorted his indignation. “In my day,” he said, “a clerk would have gone and gotten that lady another water. Manners — I guess there’s no app for that!”

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life,” “Baby’s First Tattoo” and “Now in Paperback.” He can be reached at jim_mullen@myway.com.

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