by Shawn Hamilton (Originally published in the LA Progressive, 2016)
Lately I’ve encountered a surprising number of people in public who seemed to be talking to themselves. Often when this happens, I assume these folks are talking to me, so I respond in some way as polite custom dictates, only to be ignored—or to receive a disapproving glance for having invaded someone’s privacy bubble. Usually by this point I would realize the person was talking on a cell phone or similar electronic device, and I would feel like a fool.
I first apprehended the potentially adverse social consequences of personal electronic devices in, appropriately, 1984. I was attending Humboldt State University, and I noticed a classmate wearing Walkman headphones day after day and commented in class that he seemed to be using them to tune the rest of us out. For me this was the beginning of what I now see as a deleterious trend that is getting so much worse than I initially anticipated.