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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 28, 2007 / 18 Kislev 5768

Cell phones cut out secondary circle of kinship

By Michael Smerconish


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I had an epiphany at the Thanksgiving table, somewhere between passing the stuffing and inhaling a drumstick.

Technology is killing our means of communication.

I know that sounds counterintuitive, and you're probably thinking I was hallucinating from too much tryptophan. But it's true. The stuff that is supposed to keep us in touch is making us more distant. In particular, I blame advances in cell phone technology.

What spurred my thought was the absence of two usual guests from our turkey table, "Aunt Laura" and "Uncle Don," my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, respectively. He's a retired NYPD lieutenant, a big guy who used to work security for Rudy Giuliani. Loves the Yanks, but is nevertheless fun to be around. He's godfather to one of our sons and tells good stories. One holiday, he regaled us with his late-night rescue of Frank Sinatra in a New York alley.

She's a character, too. Her name is Laura, but our kids call her "Aunt Kitty" for reasons that have always been a mystery to me. It might have something to do with her antique doll collection, but I'm not sure.

They're fun to be around, which is why I was sorry they couldn't join us this year, and these days, I hardly talk to either of them. All of my gadgets, which supposedly enhance our ability to communicate, have seen to that.

I'm BlackBerry-addicted. I have a PC and a laptop. I enjoy my iPod. Love my GPS.

But I don't use any of those to reach out to Laura and Don. We're congenial, but not that close. We don't call one another, although I know we should. Apart from semiannual visits, ours was the sort of relationship kept intact when I served as an intermediary for communication with my wife.

This goes back to the days when the only phone ringing was a house telephone _ usually in the kitchen _ and whoever was closest picked it up. After a few words, it would often get handed off to the call's intended recipient: "Phone!" You know how that works.

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When the phone rings today, it's a BlackBerry or cell phone, and the only person who answers is the intended recipient. There is no secondary circle of communication. Gone is the communication with the person who is a relative on your spouse's side of the family. Today, when my sister-in-law wants to talk to my wife, she calls her directly, or sends her an e-mail.

I'm out of the loop.

In some situations, this is a plus. It can spare what I call "stupid talk," spare contact with acquaintances I find annoying. But mostly I think it's a bad thing.

The problem is bound to get worse. A U.S. Consumer Expenditure survey found that the percentage of households paying a cell phone bill but no landline bill increased from 0.4 percent in 2000 to almost 8 percent by the beginning of 2005. If someone asks me for my phone number these days, I never give out the house number. Instead, I offer a cell number, or better yet, an e-mail address.

But this has many drawbacks. Consider the case of your daughter's boyfriend. Or your son's girlfriend.

Remember how you used to get your first impression of him or her? Their phone manner.

"Hello, Mr. Smir-na-coff?"

You immediately knew if he was courteous. ("May I please speak with ... ?") You knew if he had personality. ("Did you hear the one about ... ?") You got a hunch as to whether he was appropriate. ("Oh, no, sir, I would never dream of ... ") And whether he was smart. ("I loved your column on ... ")

Now, you've never heard of him until he shows up at the front door.

It's the same with your kids' entire social circle. And your husband's boss. And your wife's book club. The only person who gets to know these people is the one who deals directly with them. The family telephone used to be the axle through which all the spokes in the family and social network were connected. No more.

Today, it's shocking when you call a cell number and someone else answers. You stumble all over yourself, forgetting how to make polite small talk. It's a lost art.

One-on-one used to be a form of basketball defense. Now it's the way we live our lives.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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Previously:

09/26/07 What do we owe those who have died in Iraq?
08/30/07 A Navy SEAL's gut-wrenching tale of survival
07/30/07 First it was a faux pas, now it's a new word


© 2008, The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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