By Jonathon Brown
Remember before the smoking sections even existed? When it was regular that smoking was everywhere? In the restaurants and bars, of course. But in the dollar store? At the LCBO! While driving with kids? In doctor’s offices! I’ve even heard stories about it in schools. It was clearly an acceptable practice at the time. As more information came forward, a new perception of common sense, safety and courtesy grew.1
Now, we can’t even fathom a mall full of cigarette smoke. Smokers have been banned and relegated to the great outdoors to fidget, and huff and puff a much rougher winter than their cushy, non smoking counterparts who spend their break time at room temperature. Just try and picture that typical 50 year old bus driver hootin’ on his extra strength-death as he boots down the road carting tomoro’s great minds to school. And on some Home Alone vibe, it quickly registers “I DON’T THINK SO.”
Not in the stores, not in the car with kids, not at the bar, not even by the doors of a movie theatre – “Back up and take that habit-on-the-hip somewhere else!”
So now it’s a wonderful world – word to Louis Armstrong. My kids aren’t victimized by second hand smoke, I’m not coughing my way through the line up at Coffee Time, and “ash tray” isn’t the default scent of the season anymore. It’s so liberating I sometimes sit back and enjoy this new reality and relatively new attitude towards smoking and where it’s place is in society…But then my phone vibrates profusely and my train of thought is broken – 1 new text message.
And so goes the dance.
Once again, my reality is new again. Because in my new smoke free reality, I battle a new entity yet to find its place in my world – cell phones.
Because now I walk into clubs to greet neon lit party goers with their phone to their face, apparently talking to someone not among the hundreds around them. I swerve to avoid a distraught young lady barreling down the street as she breaks up with her boyfriend at 95 km/hr in a school zone. And I myself even drop the laundry basket as I frantically maneuver to try and reach my phone in my pocket. I even struggle through visits with my aunt as my phone seems to get extra reception when I’m over on a Sunday afternoon.
Cell phones are a way of the world. They seem to be logical tools and fun accessories. They don’t pollute the air, I know that! But instead, they pollute the air. At the very least in cases of frantic overuse their presence totally shifts reality. Unfortunately, our perception of the behaviour intrinsic in our cell phone wielding reality, mimmicks our former acceptance of a smoke filled social environment.
[This isn't to say I'm above or absolved of this same culture and behaviour. But it is an observation on how we think about where we pull out our cell phones, where/when we allow ourselves to be on call and face down in text messaging and just how rude they are to the people around you sometimes.]
Second hand smoke is you on your cell phone at dinner.
1. “As more information came forward, a new perception of common sense, safety and courtesy grew.”