I have occasion to be sitting in the radiography waiting room of our local French hospital. As one would expect there’s a fairly average cross-section of the populace patiently awaiting their turn. The room isn’t very large. Chairs around the walls are mostly occupied, and a battered old table stands in the centre, supporting a lop-sided stack of dog-eared, once-glossy, magazines.
I gingerly appropriate one such journal, but rapidly relinquish it again after noting it’s nearly two years old. Why can’t they at least update them occasionally, I think, feeling somewhat annoyed at this lack of basic customer service? A glance around the room soon reveals the reason. Almost without exception, my fellow occupants are busily engaged in their own personal entertainment. Aged from seventeen to seventy, smartphone owners are in abundance. Digits are diligently swiping little screens with a dexterity impossible a decade or two ago. The swift evolution of the human forefinger is much in evidence.
As one who has managed to avoid the pitfalls of such devices I find the situation slightly unnerving. What can be so engrossing to twenty-odd individuals? Is it a sudden worldwide newsflash? Has Trump started a nuclear war, or perhaps, the happening of another 9/11 attack? Hardly, it’s the fifteenth of December and ’15/12′ somehow doesn’t have the same smooth ring to it.
I don’t know why smartphones annoy me so much. I’m something of a computer freak – hardly a ‘nerd’, but I have swapped processors and upgraded RAM memory, and stuff like that. And, I’m considering changing the motherboard on my desktop for a secondhand one I bought sometime ago on eBay, though I’ll have to blow the dust off it first. Yet smartphones, and to a lesser extent ‘tablets’, really get up my nose. My wife spends more time swearing at hers than gleaning information from it.
I do own a mobile phone, of course. It’s an aging Motorola Razr, circa 2003.
I use it to – okay, I’ll admit it – make phone calls. I know that’s a really old-fashioned, square, thing to do with a phone, but just call me an old fuddy-duddy. At least I don’t have to suffer constant updates and reminders, and of course that dreadful ‘social media’.
The folk in the French waiting room are not focused on any earth-shattering news report. They’re mostly just searching desperately for some online item that isn’t too desperately boring, reading old emails, checking out their friend’s Facebook page, or possibly seeking pornographic titillation. Perhaps it is marginally more interesting than some old, beat-up, magazine.
Come to think of it, given the inordinate length of time one has to wait one’s turn in any medical ‘salle d’attente’ in France a bit of pornographic titillation probably wouldn’t come amiss. I’ve been here forty-five minutes and there’s still no sign of any doctor.
Oh, well, nothing ventured, I guess I’ll risk giving that two-year-old glossy another glance.