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The Wonderful World of Wireless Communication

By Chris Carpenter Producer - As I was driving through my neighborhood in a rainstorm recently I couldnt help but notice a shadowy figure lurking ahead of me at the side of the road. Upon my approach, the windshield wipers thumped and whined rhythmically to reveal a teenage boy tooling along on a skateboard. To further complicate matters in my universe of sensible thinking, he was casually talking to someone on a cellular phone.

As the teenager became but a memory in my rearview mirror I couldnt help but wonder who he could possibly be talking to in the pronounced wetness of the day. His parents, a friend, girlfriend, Aunt Sally, who? Eventually, I developed a sample dialogue in my mind of what he might be saying:

"Yo, whats up? Me? Oh, Im just out here riding around on my skateboard trying to stay dry. Why dont I go home and call you from an indoor phone? Why would I want to do that when I can talk to you out here in the rain on my cell phone?"

This sounds pretty foolish doesnt it? However, I have been absolutely perplexed by the ridiculous episodes involving cell phones I have witnessed in recent months. Beyond the typical annoyance of hearing one ringing at the office, in restaurants, during church services, or even in the bathroom stall at a baseball stadium, I have been privy to some pretty remarkable tales featuring this brave world of new fangled technology.

My friends and family have accused me of being a technophobe. By outward appearances this might be true but for the record, I was one of the first people on my block to own a cellular telephone way back in the dark ages of 1993. Although it was the size of a lunch box and I had trouble maintaining a consistent signal due to gentle outdoor breezes blowing the signal around, it was mine and I loved it.

There was nothing I enjoyed more than being in a public place, deciding I needed to make a call and then removing my precious cell phone from its bowling bag sized case. I would punch in the digits with zestful glee, give my audience a slight wink and a nod acknowledging my ultimate metropolitan flair, and then look foolish when the call would not go through. I can still hear that nasally womans voice barking back at me:

"Were sorry. Your call cannot be completed as dialed. You are currently out of your coverage area. Please check your roaming agreement and then try again. Message 8107964."

But a lot of phone transmissions have flown through the air since then. The technology has certainly improved while the cost has come down exponentially (I think I paid $500 for my first and only cell phone). Furthermore, the cellular phone business has made this modern marvel available to just about anyone. I would venture to say that obtaining one is even easier than a college student qualifying for a credit card.

Cellular phones have done an admirable job in creating a tremendous sense of security for weary or distressed road travelers. Just this morning, I witnessed a woman on an interstate highway dialing for help in a rainstorm because she had been in a fender bender. Lost hikers have been able to direct people to their uncharted locations through the use of a cellular phone. And yes, it is a handy device when you just cant find a phone booth late at night.

Unfortunately, despite its obvious value to society, the cellular phone is being used, abused, and trivialized to the dismay of overly sensitive and cranky people like me. Allow me to illustrate:

On a recent Friday evening I was at my local video store searching for a movie to rent. Everything seemed normal until I tried walking down the first aisle of new releases. The problem was I couldnt. Blocking my path was a series of not one, not two, not three, but four people standing in a row, shoulder to shoulder talking on their cellular phones. Whenever I tried to politely pass, one of them would step forward to pick up a movie in a zombie-like state and begin reading the back cover into the phone. I considered saying "excuse me" but they were completely oblivious to my intentions. It was if they were in some sort of trance. I quickly realized that if I was not in their microcosm world of communication, i.e. the person on the other end of the phone, I did not exist. I came very close to grabbing one of the phones, turning it off, and saying in a sarcastic retort to its owner, "Hey, why dont you surprise him tonight." Instead, I mumbled a polite "pardon" and slid through this human obstacle course.

Here is another. While dining in an Atlanta restaurant last year I couldnt help but notice a young attractive couple sitting in a corner booth. They were obviously in love as they held hands and stared dreamily into each others eyes by the flicker of candlelight. Music lilted in the background as waiters scurried to and fro. It was a scene straight out of Hollywood except for one rather large exception. They were each talking on cellular phones to different people! At first I thought they might be doctors each responding to an emergency call. That notion was soon thwarted as their individual conversations lingered for the better part of 20 minutes. I couldnt help but ask myself, What is wrong with this picture? Romantic restaurant, two people in love talking to different people on cell phones. Ah yes, how silly of me. Their water glasses were not filled. Not.

Finally, I was talking with a friend of mine over lunch last week when he posed this mind-bending question.

"Do you think it would be alright to get "Susan" her own cell phone?"

"Other than the fact she is nine years old, I dont see any problem with it," I sarcastically replied.

"Well, I realize she is young but she really wants one. I think the people who manufacture Barbie dolls have one on the market for her age group."

I stared at him incredulously for what seemed an eternity. As I thought through what my response would be, visions of civilization crumbling into the depths of despair flashed before my eyes. I remembered my boss telling me that when he met President Bush last year, the Commander in Chief absolutely abhorred cellular phones and refused to allow them in his presence. Yet here I was munching nacho chips in a Mexican restaurant listening to why a nine-year-old should be equipped with her own cellular phone. It just didnt add up. The President does not carry one yet a nine-year-old does. I finally responded.

"Not this year. Maybe next."

I could ramble and on about my difficult encounters with cellular phone users but I must stop and realize that I am judging these people with a critical spirit. As a Christian, it is my duty to not focus on peoples shortcomings but to see them as individuals that God loves. This is an area that I think many people, including myself, battle with on a daily basis. We see so much moral irresponsibility in our daily walk that we want to try and solve the worlds problems by our own accord. But as I am reminded so frequently, it is not about me, it is about Him.

In Philippians 4:8 the Apostle Paul writes, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things."

In this passage we find that Paul understood the power and influence of ones thoughts on a persons life. The thoughts that we sometimes allow to penetrate our minds will often dictate how we react to various situations. It is very clear in this verse that Paul is encouraging us to "practice what we preach."

Through a dedicated effort to apply this scripture verse into our very human way of thinking, it is hoped we will create a pattern of consistency in how we approach issues that are burdensome and troubling to us. As Christians, it is our moral obligation to live lives of personal integrity (there is that word again). To do so will result in a stronger sense of spiritual excellence in our lives.

So, rather than complaining about people, why dont we pray for them instead?


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Information from The Transformer, study Bible used in this article.

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