I was turning onto my street to park my car, when I noticed a young woman crossing at the opposite corner. She was talking on her cell phone. After parking my car, I sat for several moments thinking about the woman and her talking on the cell phone. before cell phones, what did I do when I was walking? Besides looking where I was going, did I talk? Did I talk to myself? At times did I talk out loud? As a child if I ever saw a person that seemed to be talking to himself, I knew the person was crazy. Stay away from him! During the early days of the cell phone, it was not easy to tell if a person was talking out loud, into a hidden microphone, or nuts. Whether a hidden microphone or a visible cell phone, the isolate walker was talking.
I could not hear the walking talker since I was in my car. Often, I can hear the person talking on their cell phone. Cell phone talking is ubiquitous. There is someone talking on the cell phone in the grocery, coffee shop, elevator, dentist waiting room, airport lounge, and in the backrow at a burial ground, The talker has no interest in privacy. The cell phone talker could care less if you hear every spoken word. It may be, that the talker delights in having an audience. “Hey, look me over, lend me an ear…”.
But, back to pre-cell phone days. I know that I am always talking to myself whether I am walking, or stationary. I am talking to myself without any response. I am speaking to an audience of one – me. Boring, no. I am never bored when I am talking to myself. I have innumerable images, feelings, sensations and ideas. I could, if I had company express much of what I was saying to myself, but I don’t have the need. There are times when I would like to speak to another person, or that I must speak to someone else. But not always. For most of my waking hours, I am quite comfortable talking to myself, as in the following private conversations:
“I am hungry, and it’s almost noon. I think I’ll go to the bagel shop. No, I better get my hair cut, before the salon closes. What day is it? Is the salon open today? The place is always packed on Tuesday. Oh, the bagel shop is closed. The sign says on holiday until June 6. Damn it! Pizza, I’ll get a slice.”
OR……. “Harry is never going to pay what he owes me. I don’t give a shit. He’s tight for funds, as usual and I like him. I like his wife even more. She is stunning, and, well- I think I must go to see Mitchell. I have a pain in my right knee.”
OR…….” That fuckin president. I can’t stand him and the rest of the politicians- what the hell are they doing. Wow, that cab almost hit that dog.”
Most of the time, when I talk to myself, it is rather mundane. Most of my thoughts would not be of interest to anyone. The thoughts are not crude, or insightful, but rather commonplace, and allow me to get through the day, and night. Should I have thoughts that are particularly meaningful, I would tell a trusted family member or friend.
So, what more can I say about the walking and talking that is the marvel of the cell phone. I assume that if the cell phone talker was with their listener, the conversation would be like that on the cell phone. That may not be the case. With the technology of today, as in texting, email and cell phone one does not have the feedback of face to face communication. No angry stare, sneer, smile, twinkle, blush, nod, look aside, or even turn away.
Why the need to speak to someone from the moment of waking to sleep? Why are people so needy of constant verbal contact with another person? Was this always that case? Did we realize how deprived we were of immediate human contact? Has the invention of the portable cell phone allowed us to fulfill a constant need to affiliate? The need to be certain that we count – that we matter. The cell phone has eliminated the dreaded state of alone. Alone with our thoughts, feelings, and desires. Alone with me, with I, with life.
Tom Golden, May, 2018