The next time you're in an airport—or virtually any public place—count the number of people using cell phones. You may be as surprised as I was on a recent trip. While waiting at the gate to board a plane, I noticed that almost everyone around me had a cell phone to their ear.
And the conversations didn't end when we started boarding. All the way down the ramp to the plane, many of these people were yapping away about some important subject that I didn't care the least about. Nevertheless, because they were talking loudly and very near me, I felt I was part of the conversation.
Strangest of all, I thought, were the two people who were using earphones and a microphone with their cell phones, again talking rather loudly while their eyes darted around. At first, I didn't see the phones, so I thought they were talking to themselves. Then, I began to think maybe they were talking to me. I actually said, "pardon me," to one before I realized he was talking on his cell phone hands-free. He looked at me as if I was a jerk, interrupting a private conversation.
When we arrived at our destination, the cell phone activity started again all the way out of the plane and down to the baggage claim area. Mr. Hands-Free started his conversation again as he pulled his bags from the carousel This isn't a diatribe against cell phones. They are great tools that can save time and help you stay in touch with progress on projects. I have one myself, though I admit I use it mostly from my car to tell my wife I'll be late because I'm stuck in traffic.
But I wonder, what is it that drives so many people to use them so much and so long in airports, or walking down the street. Are they that busy that they can't be away without being constantly in touch? Is it a power trip?
For me, I like to spend my time at airline gates thinking—about what story I'm working on, what I will do when I arrive at my destination, what's the best strategy for accomplishing some of my projects. I definitely don't want to hear strangers discussing weighty or personal matters with others I can't see.
It's my quiet time, when I like to activate my brain cells rather than my cell phone.