The View From 35,000 Feet

Seat 9D is an aisle seat. The front cover of the Safety Instructions in my seat-back pocket advises me that, "Final assembly of this aircraft was completed in Brazil." I wonder why that is relevant. Should that make me feel more secure, or less? Are Brazilians good, or perhaps lacking, when it comes to assembling airplanes? In any case, I look around me to find the nearest exit. Then I notice that almost everyone on board has a consumer electronics device in their hands.

There are a few laptops (mine included) and some tablets, but mainly, everyone is jacked into their phones. A few two-thumbers are engaged in video games, but most are one-thumbers, busily swiping. Phones are an important part of these people's lives. Earlier, at the concourse, I saw a young mother intently swiping her phone while her infant lay unattended. Actually, I see that quite often. I imagine that these young mothers are doing important things with their phones, for example, advising President Obama on his handling of the deteriorating situation in Iraq.

If this regional jet had to make an emergency landing, in the mad scramble to escape, I guarantee you that most of my fellow passengers would take their phones with them. In all fairness, they would need their phones, so they could shoot selfies in front of the twisted, flaming fuselage.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I hate phones. My question is this; do you hate phones as much as I do? More helpfully, how do they rank on your list of valuable possessions? If your house was on fire, what possession would you grab first? Your McIntosh MC275 amplifier? Your Thorens TD124 turntable? Your virgin 180-gram LPs? Or your phone? Admittedly, the phone is an easier lift than a McIntosh, but surely a good amp, especially a tube amp, is worth the extra effort?

During the Golden Age of Audio/Video, I imagined that the world would magically evolve toward some future enlightened time when everyone would want to enjoy music and movie playback the way I most enjoyed it - with a big screen and big speakers. Phones irrevocably changed that, or at least are taking us on a long, miniaturized detour. Among other reasons, that is why I hate them.

Yes, Seat 9D is not exactly an optimal listening/viewing position for traditional home theater. On board this assembled-in-Brazil aircraft, if you need to see a movie, a phone is much better. The problem is this: even when they are not strapped in, compared to their home systems, most of my fellow passengers think that their phones are much better.

In case you're wondering, I'd take the amp.

malvrich's picture

I used to think PCs would make us all stupid. However I've never seen a PC cause a person to walk headlong into oncoming traffic or bodies of water. I believe that now we truly are as dumb as we look.

compunut's picture

I consider my phones very important. They allow me to communicate, which is their design purpose. Sometimes I even talk on them! Occasionally, I play games on my personal phone when I am waiting for something. I also try hard to put them down and ignore them when I am around other people. If I am at a restaurant, I DON'T sit there with my face glued to my phone. That is rude and it ignores the whole point of being out with other people. If you want to stare at your phone, get your food to go and stay by yourself.

I don't watch movies on my phone. When I had an iPad, I didn't watch movies on it either. I don't watch movies on my laptop, either. I watch movies on my home theater. I listen to music and podcasts (mostly techie content) with an iPod Nano when I am on the go. Someday I will get my content out of iTunes (ick) and start using my phone to store the content instead.

As for what I would grab if my house was on fire, I would grab my laptop. It has copies of all of my most important information on it, particularly photos. Of course, I also have on-site and off-site backups, just in case!