I was in the bank this morning when a woman walked up to the teller next to mine.  The woman had her cellphone cradled between her left shoulder and ear and talked endlessly into the phone while rifling through some papers intended for the teller.  The woman never looked up or engaged the teller, let alone make eye contact.  It was as though the teller did not exist and the call she was involved with was the most important thing in life.

This type of behavior is now commonplace.  You see it in banks, stores, drive thrus and just about anyplace where communication and respectful behavior once existed.  And don't dare interrupt these social butterflies with a question or comment.

When did we become so rude?

Now, I admit that less than twenty years ago I didn't have a cellphone.  I didn't want a cellphone.  I swore I would never own a cellphone.  My wife insisted I needed to stay in touch.  I caved.  I also admit that I am now addicted to my smartphone just like everyone else who has one, which is most of us.

We live in a fast world these days.  Information comes at us at breakneck speed.  So quickly that newspapers have become almost obsolete.  Our ability to communicate in real time has connected the world and made it a much smaller place.  We Facetime and Instagram with people all over the globe.

Technology is marvelous.  It's made us smarter and kept us informed like no other generation before us.  It's not going away. What is sad is that we've allowed this fabulous technology to rule us instead of the other way around.  You go to a restaurant or club and people are texting or checking messages and not talking or even looking at each other.  You can't hold hands and text at the same time.

What is most sad is that so many parents are allowing their children's lives to pass before them without even noticing.  It's because they are glued to the phone.  There is no redo...if you miss it it's gone.  I see grandparents doing the same thing.  And now it's become a safety issue too.  So much so that lawmakers have had to ban the handheld use of cellphones while driving.

We have a generation of young people who've never known life without smartphones.

A phone store clerk called my show today to say that he's seen an uptick in people looking to downgrade rather than upgrade their phones after feeling overwhelmed and addicted to the technology.

I wonder, could you leave your smartphone on the charger at home for an entire week while you work?  Could you?  Not sure I could and that is scary.

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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