In my hammock, after a recent performance, I mused over what’s becoming a regular occurrence at nearly every show: smartphones in the hands of less-than-smart people.
On stage I have a panoramic view of the entire room, and, as an entertainer, this is important because I need to read the crowd, their smiles, frowns, or laughter help me decide what song to play next.
However, these days the art of reading an audience is becoming more difficult because they are reacting not to my lyrics or music but to their pocket size communication devises – their smartphones.
A smartphone in the hands of a stupid person is just plain dangerous and a chokehold on family values.
In the midst of an audience, I note a family, consisting of a mom, dad, two teenage kids and one elderly person who could be a grandmother. The entire family is engrossed in their smartphones. The teenagers actually have headphones stuck in their ears during our entire three-hour performance.
Except to order food and drinks, the family has made zero verbal contact with each other. Now I can deal with the rudeness of the situation – after all I get paid whether they listen to my tunes or not, but the fact that mom, dad and grandma are ignoring their kids’ disrespect for our performance puts me in a stupor of confusion.
Maybe it’s just a generation thing? When I was a teenager, I’d get a good “whack” across the head if I even attempted to excuse myself to call a friend (on a pay phone ) during a family dinner. I know what some smartphone addicts are thinking right now: I’m the rude one for calling smartphone owners stupid.
First, let me remind you, I’m referring to “some smartphone addicts” and also allow me to cite my favorite Einstein quote – “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction, the world will have a generation of idiots.”
It happened overnight. One day, people went about their business, sharp, and in tune to their surroundings and then, the very next day, the roads, cinemas, board rooms, and restaurants were filled with bug-eyed zombies peering into little screens while tapping on little keypads, oblivious to anyone and anything around them.
Yes, smartphones have almost instantly turned many into morons. There are people who drive into each other, or over each other, because they’re busy tapping LOL into their smartphones. People block doorways and elevators because they’re shopping on Amazon.
How about those who drop their smartphones into the urinal while betting on a football game, or people watching porn during a church service, or those who can’t find Rum Point or East End without a GPS navigation app?
There are many bizarre stories about stupid people with smartphones; the information is all over the Internet, which, of course, you can access on your smartphone. The following, however, I read in a good old-fashioned newspaper:
A 21-year-old college student from Texas was driving when he texted to his friend: “I need to quit texting, because I could die in a car accident.” He then immediately drove off a bridge and over a cliff. He suffered a broken neck, a crushed face, a fractured skull, and brain trauma. How could that be?
He was stupid! Believe it or not, distracted smartphone-related driving led to more than 3,000 road fatalities in the U.S. last year.
If this keeps up, an entire generation will go over the cliff.
When not traveling to some faraway island, George Nowak (The Barefoot Man) performs at the REEF Resort in East End and the Wharf Restaurant. Read more of his adventures in his book, Which Way to the Islands.