Instant access? Well, you can tune me out

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 3, 2005

You can’t even sit in a nice, expensive restaurant without being interrupted by the obnoxious ringing of someone’s cell phone.

Oh, wait.

Is that my cell phone that’s ringing?

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In this day of instant access, instant replay and instant coffee, I often wonder about the state of panic everyone would go into if you took away their cell phones, their email, and their palm pilots.

It still amazes me to see little kids walking around with a cell phone on their hips, as if they were John Wayne looking for the killers in &uot;Rooster Cogburn.&uot;

Cell phones on the hips are now as much a part of the attire as wearing underwear.

But what concerns me more is the fact that so many people seem to think that they would absolutely have a mental meltdown if they didn’t have this instant connection to someone or something in the ‘outside’ world.

To the ‘outside’ world? What about the world within their physical reach?

Now, let me make something perfectly clear.

I believe it is absolutely wonderful that parents and their children can have instant contact with each other, especially in case of an emergency.

If the car breaks down or if the tire goes flat, that cell phone is the first thing I’m reaching for, so I fully understand that aspect of it.

However, when I was growing up, I played for hours out in the yard on my swing set. It was one of those that whenever you would swing too high, the whole front end of the structure came up off the ground, and you would think for a moment that you are going to tip over.

It’s not like it had concrete around the legs or anything. My dad put that thing together, and told me to have at it.

I was happy, and that’s all that mattered.

But, when it was time for supper, (or dinner, whichever one you say), all my mother had to do was stick her head out the front door and yell, &uot;Raa-gi-naaaa!&uot;

She didn’t call my cell phone. She didn’t send me an email. She didn’t text message me.

I was outside playing in my own yard, accumulating dirt and grass stains like any good American youngster should.

And, if I wasn’t in the yard, I was riding my bike to Beeland Park pool, or riding up and down Commerce Street and all over town. It’s too bad that kids can’t really do that anymore.

It seems that years ago, if you wanted to punish a child, you could take away his play time with his friends and make him stay in his room alone.

Today, if you want to punish a child, take away his cell phone, computer, video games and TV and make him play with his friends OUTSIDE.

There is a lot to be said for playing outside, whether alone or with friends.

Even as adults, so many of us think we have to be entertained constantly by television, cable, DVDs, or the radio. One might think we, as a society, are afraid of silence and the idea of quietly pondering something.

The mainstream thought is that if we become ‘unplugged,’ we might miss something happening in the world around us.

Miss what?

Heaven forbid we should miss some of the things we see on TV or hear on the radio.

I tried discussing this with Samson, my 21-pound tomcat, but he was hard to locate.

I finally found him looking at exotic bird websites on his laptop computer.

He said that he could be reached at

Regina Grayson is a reporter with the Greenville Advocate.

She can be reached at 334-383-9302, ext. 126 or via e-mail at