In the popular TV series The Walking Dead they call the zombies “Walkers”. You can apply the same term to most of the cell phones users in today’s America. There is little difference between the zombies from the TV series who shuffle about aimlessly and the millions of Americans that shuffle, stand, and drive about aimlessly while thumbing their cell phones. Welcome to the American Zombieland.
This past Friday while driving home from work I had to stop for road construction. The flagman was standing on the edge of the road holding a pole with a stop sign on the top of it. He was holding the pole with one hand while thumbing his cell phone with the other. After a few minutes he rotated the sign to say “slow” and then immediately returned to his text conversation with his BFF.
The other day at work I walked into the restroom and saw a guy standing at the urinal. He was holding his crank in one hand and his cell phone in the other. He was actually taking a piss and texting at the same time. I can just imagine the message – “Taking a piss now. LOL!”
Last weekend my wife and I went out to our favorite pizza joint for dinner. We live in a college town and this particular restaurant is frequented by college students. As I sat there with my wife I glanced over at a young guy and girl sitting at a table behind us. Both of them were sitting there eating pizza and pecking on their cell phones. I don’t think they said three words to each other during their entire meal. If they had sex later that night I’m sure they sent texts to all their friends. “We’re doing it doggy style! OMG!”
I commute about 80 miles roundtrip on the Interstate to get to work each day. I drive a pickup truck and I can see down into all the cars as they go by. You’d be surprised at how many people pass me going 75 mph while texting on their cell phones, drifting from one side of the road to the other completely oblivious to their surroundings. But to be fair, in my years on the Interstate I’ve also seen people doing other strange things while driving. I once saw a young girl playing a small battery-powered drum kit that was zip-tied to her steering wheel. She was steering with her knees while playing the little drum kit with two drumsticks. I’m not lying. I actually saw this once on I-95. I’ve seen women applying makeup, guys shaving with electric razors, and other guys jacking off as they drive down the highway so I guess adding cell phones to the mix isn’t that big of a deal.
I’ve lost count of how many times a teenage girl has walked right into my grocery cart at the Walmart because she was so engaged in a text conversation that she wasn’t watching where she was going. I’ve seen teenage boys texting while skateboarding and even saw a neighbor of mine texting while mowing his lawn.
Earlier this afternoon I was sitting at my local Ford dealership getting my oil changed. On my left sat two elderly gentlemen, both wearing ball caps. They had to be in their 70’s. They sat there for over an hour having a good, old-fashioned conversation about topics that ranged from fishing to the national news. On my right sat a young couple, a guy and a girl, probably in their 20’s. Each had a cell phone and for the entire hour they sat there staring into their palms like zombies never saying more than a few words to each other. Now I ask you, who do you think came away from that hour feeling better? My money is on the two old guys.
I’d like to say that the texting problem is confined to our young people but it isn’t. Maybe the two elderly men at the Ford dealership were just anomalies. A few days ago I was driving along behind another pickup truck when the truck slowly drifted over into the grass along the side of the road. The driver corrected, only to drift back into the grass a few seconds later. At the next stoplight I saw that he was not a teenager, but rather a middle-aged man with a bib hat, full beard and yes, an Iphone. At the stoplight he was holding the Iphone while resting his hands on his beer gut, texting at a rate that would have made any junior high tween blush with envy.
The last time I took my wife to see a movie, I counted over a dozen people thumbing on their cell phones. Is the latest Facebook post that important? What in the hell is everyone talking about? Who knew that the only thing Americans really wanted was a way to stay in constant contact with each other? How did we survive before the invention of cell phones? How did we ever make it through the day when we weren’t able to share with our friends every pointless thought that crossed our minds?
Years ago I had a neighbor that was vehemently anti-gun. He refused to own a firearm to protect himself or his family. But he carried a cell phone with him everywhere he went because the thought of missing an important phone call terrified him. But the thought of a burglar coming into his house at night didn’t.
Facebook is now mentioned in over half of the divorce cases filed in America. Does anyone really need to be told that finding that old high school flame on Facebook might not be such a good idea? Sometimes the people in our past are best left in the past where they belong.
Cell phones are destroying our society and turning us all into Walkers. Cell phones and the Internet are eating away our relationships with the people that are important in our lives, replacing them with a virtual world that is rarely centered in reality. They are destroying our ability to disconnect from the outside world and enjoy quiet, private time with the ones we love.
Using our cell phones, we are slowly turning our country in the American Zombieland.