A few years ago, I noticed a woman behind me in her luxury car. She seemed to be perfectly normal, and didn’t even pick her nose. Not while I was watching, anyway. But I did notice that she was talking. There wasn’t anyone else in the call, but boy was she having a conversation! Her arms were flailing about, her face was animated. She was in full-blow conversation. Only there was no one else in the car. I was convinced she was crazy.
But then, I realized that it was probably one of those cars that had a speakerphone in the car. Thus, the beginning of the techno-phrenic. It’s a sad condition where the individual has some sort of communications device that makes them otherwise oblivious to the rest of the world.
For the longest time, it was easy to tell who was a techno-phrenic and who was really nuts. It’s a difference between the voices in one’s head and the voice in their headset. Sometimes, I’m not sure there’s much of a difference, though. The techno-phrenic were easily identified by their handheld cell phones, either opened like a Trek communicator or wired with their hands-free device. Usually, it was one of those ear buds that had a little microphone about eight inches down from the ear that the user kept fumbling with. God, those things were irritating.
Oh, and try to have a conversation with a techno-phrenic. You’ll hear a, “Hey!” and turn around, thinking that they’re talking to you. But no. They’re staring out into nothingness, completely devoid of any cognitive awareness of the world around them. They are engrossed into their conversation. “Yeah, I want sausage on mine. Want me to pick up some KY on the way home?” Their conversations are as meaningless and curious as that of a parrot who’s calling out for a cracker.
At least you know the parrot is talking to you.
But why am I even talking about this? All right, I confess. I did it. I have joined the rapidly growing nation of a new generation of the techno-phrenic. I have a Bluetooth. For the life of me, I don’t know why I had such a moment of weakness, but alas, I did. I even used the word “Bluetooth” correctly. It’s called a “Bluetooth” not a “Bluetooth headset” or a “Bluetooth device.” It’s just “Bluetooth.” We have to get the lingo right, you know.
Why this moment of techno-phrenic weakness and ultimate devotion? Maybe it’s because my partner kept reaching over for the steering wheel whenever I dialed a number on my old phone (that didn’t even have a camera in it). I did rather enjoy his facial expressions whenever the car moved a little too far to the left or right. No wonder he screams.
Maybe it’s because my phone was more than a year old, a dinosaur of technology! Or maybe it’s because I wanted to try it. Maybe I wanted to be one of those people in a restaurant that would talk to themselves in long, animated conversations while everyone around them rolled their eyes. No. I just wanted to reassert my geek-dom. We geeks have to do that every once in a while, you know.
Bluetooth is an amazing thing. It’s Star Trek technology at its best. A simple tap will answer or end a call. To reject a call, just hold the little blue light button thingy down for a bit. It’s amazing! It’s small! And it’s got a cool blue light! My geek points just went through the roof. I’m so proud!
So now, I can ignore the rest of the world. I can hold up my finger and lip-synch, “I’m on the phone” right in the middle of another conversation. No matter what might happen, my conversations will be loud, annoying, and almost always in a public place. I’ll be just like the rest of those people who walk down the airport runways who are just talking away, oblivious to the “don’t leave your bag by itself” announcements or the other sprinting people racing to their gate.
So now, we’re fast becoming nation of geeks and techo-phrenics who walk around with this little pod on our ears with those ultra-cool blinking blue lights. And we’re talking to ourselves. Technology is wonderful, isn’t it?
I wonder if there are support groups for us? Techno-phrenics Anonymous? No. It’d never work. We’d have to actually turn off our Bluetooths.