I read an article the other day that claimed that with shrinking attention spans and growing electronic interruptions, we've turned into a culture of rude, inconsiderate, goof-
Hold on a sec. I gotta take this call.
(La dee dah dee dah)
OK, I'm back. You never know when -
Oh, there it goes again.
(One, two, buckle my shoe; three, four, shut the door...)
Sorry, didn't realize that would take five minutes. Twelve? Really. It didn't seem that long. So what was it you wanted? Oh, I was talking to you. Right.
So apparently our electronic toys have elevated the art of rudeness.
In the golden days of good manners, it took planning to snub someone. Today, it's simple. Reach for your smartphone. You can hardly get through a conversation without some sort of buzzing, beeping, whooping or singing sounding off from your pocket or his.
We're ruder, cruder and more socially unattractive than ever with all our social media.
Remember when answering machines first came into vogue? Some folks believed that was the height of rudeness. They just knew you sat at home screening calls simply to ignore theirs.
Of course we did. But most of the time, I simply wasn't home. I never could train the dog to take phone numbers.
This was topped by call waiting. You got to put people on hold, sending the message, ''Your call is important to me, but theirs is even better.''
Now we have cellphones and other gadgets that take calls, connect to the Internet, play games and hold tons of other distractions. Never has it been so unnecessary to talk to an actual human being.
Bluetooth and ear buds further confuse matters. You walk down a hallway at work when a guy coming the other direction yells, "Hey, what are you up to?" There's no one else in the hallway but you, so you reply, "Not much, how about you?"
The yeller glares at you, points to some minuscule gadget in his ear, and yells, "Hold on a sec, Howie. Some rude jerk is yakking at me while I'm clearly on the phone with you."
It used to be when we saw someone walking down the street chattering away even though he was by himself, we knew not to interrupt. We had names for these types of people, but I shall not repeat them here. It would be rude.
These days, you see lots of lone babblers wandering sidewalks, empty parking lots, buzzing traffic, snake pits and animal cages at the zoo.
Yes, it is rude to laugh when these zoned-out people walk into lampposts or residue left by a passing dog. But I won't tell.
Don't forget to take a picture with your phone and zap it to all your friends. I bet every last one of them interrupts whatever conversation they're having to enjoy a great chortle.
Hold on a sec, a text just came through. It'll just take me a minute to answer this -
Hello? Hello? Where'd you go? Oh well, more time to play Angry Birds.
---- Ignore Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.