Monday, July 07, 2008

Today's New Word -- Personasphere

Extra points for Andrew Ferguson for making the observation. I don't know if he made up the word, but this little column captures a sign of the times.

My first glimpse of the personasphere came several years ago at a county fair. It was like all county fairs, an all-American overload of colored lights and hurdy-gurdy noise and questionable smells. I'd always thought it was an experience that nobody could be bored by. Then I saw a gaggle of four teenage girls walking together along the midway. They were yacking away, as teenage girls, you might have noticed, sometimes do-but they were yacking into their cell phones. Walking four abreast, they were huddled in their personaspheres, each in her customized bubble, talking to someone who was far away instead of the friends that plan or chance had placed beside her. They were lost not only to one another but to the noise and color around them.

Bingo. Thanks to the cellphone humans can now compete with turtles, crabs and snails for carrying a shell defining their identity. The modern cellphone is the modern equivalent of a revolver, available at a moment's notice to shield the owner from any number of uncomfortable (or comfortable, for that matter) social situations.

Everyone has stories to tell about how portable phones have done everything from saving lives to taking them. The conventience is breathtaking. Honey, I'm at the grocery store and can't find that cereal you wanted for the baby. Tell me again what to look for... But the last time my wife and I went to a concert, the conductor made it a point to ask the audience to please turn off their cellphones.

When the phone plague came to the cafeteria line I instructed my servers that if someone was talking on a phone while ordering to move quickly but politely and serve the next person in line. Keep the line moving. If the phone talker complained, tell him your manager said it was rude to interrupt a phone call. The time came, though, when I heard someone in line telling a friend at work what was on the menu. It struck me as free advertising so I let up a bit.

HT Michael Wade

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