Friday, August 13, 2004


This morning I saw an interesting flash of where society as we know it may be headed apace. A group of three got on the train, a young man and two young women. The two women, office ladies, were clearly husband hunting (an older man can tell these things), and the young man (new salaryman) was clearly (judging by the women's attitude toward him) a very eligible bachelor.

The two women started chatting the fellow up right there, cornered in the corner by the door, apparently for the duration of the ride. He carried on gamely for a while, not really interested for whatever unbelievable reason, and soon whipped out his sleek silver cell phone, flicked it open between the women with a swordlike click and commenced looking absorbedly into the screen, mumbling some vague and dismissive response to the conversation.

The women were thus forced to talk to each other, which they did half-heartedly for a while-- neither fulfilling the other's dreams, exactly-- as the young man gazed deeply into his miniscreen the way I recall men used to look into women's eyes. The conversational spirit had clearly departed, and soon one of the young women whipped out her own cell phone and merged with it, her presence virtually disappearing, leaving the third woman virtually alone, with no one to talk to but her cell phone, which promptly flashed into the light to rescue a damsel in distress.

We now have a ubiquitous personal and immediate substitute for present company. What an insult to ourselves. Given the circumstances of this little drama, I couldn't help but wonder what effect the cell phone will have on Japan's already plummeting birthrate. Must a woman (or a man) now be more appealing than a cell phone? Will the cell phone replace marriage? I don't and never will own a cell phone-- I can't imagine being 'reachable' everywhere I go-- nor can I imagine using a cell phone to replace female company. Not to mention the very real danger of having one's spirit stolen, en masse, nationwide.


No comments: