The Oxford Dictionary informally defines a maniac as someone who is an obsessive enthusiast, a definition I am in complete agreement with, when we are talking about cellphones. If I were dramatic – and I am not – I would declare that we live in the age of maniacs!
I’ll be the first to admit that I cannot go a day without my phone, I would be lost, and that is the honest to God truth. But I also know that I can go for hours without fiddling with it, my issue is about knowing it is there!
For the last two years, I have gone to the same church and almost ritualistically, the Priest will remind those in attendance to switch off their phones. Mind, the first time I heard this, I thought to myself, that is only common sense! I have come to learn that common sense was wrongly named.
But I digress. So yesterday in the middle of a prayer, when the church is at its most quiet – somehow even the babies seem to know they need to shush – the quiet is disturbed by the shrillest (don’t know if this is even a word) loudest sound of a mobile phone ringing. Normally people jump to ensure there is no second ring, but this gentleman, no … he let it ring a second time … and a third … prompting even the priest to stop mid-prayer and lookup!
Heads swiveled to the general direction of the noise, hoping that our glares would ensure an end to the offending sound. But then, like it is of no consequence, this middle aged man who looked very sane but that obviously wasn’t, without so as a by your leave, answered his phone and started a conversation, yes … right there in the middle of the mass! It might have been 30 seconds, maybe a minute tops, but at the time it seemed like an eternity.
Then as if nothing unusual had happened, this bear of very little brain, went back into his position of supplication, no apology, not even slightly embarrassed plus he did not look around to see our dropped jaws and daggers aimed his way! The priest cleared his throat and continued with mass.
I have teenage nieces and they are the sweetest girls, but hand them a phone – they all have blackberries – and they transform into pinging-whatsapping-facebooking maniacs. But even they don’t do that in church! I am convinced he is clinically mad, either that or he is daft as a brush!
For me, this incident made me question whether we so self absorbed today that we even cannot respect places of sanctuary? The sad fact is I don’t believe he would have answered his phone in the middle of a meeting with his boss or while he was doing something he considers important. Also what happened to respecting other people’s beliefs?
Suffice to say, I now fully understand why the priests always start mass with a reminder for people to turn off their phones.