New words for new technology

One day last week I was sitting on North Arch Avenue where it ends at Hester Avenue in Alliance, waiting for several vehicles to pass so I could turn left onto Hester. The last vehicle was well behind the others, and I could have pulled out with time to spare had I known the driver was turning onto Arch, but he didn’t use his turn signal, so I had to wait until he turned onto Arch. It was only a few additional seconds, but it perturbed me that he came drifting around the turn, blithely talking on his cell phone, which was more important than proper driving, oblivious to my presence. His behavior led me to coin a new term, or rather a new spelling: he was cellph-absorbed, too involved in his cell phone conversation to care about consideration for others and traffic rules. Of course lack of turn signals is practiced by people who aren’t on cell phones, but it gravels me to see cell phone talkers in public, because they can’t be as aware of the world around them as someone who is fully involved in the moment. As the Hindu writer Ram Dass wrote, “Be here now.”
This led to a flurry of neologisms, and I’m putting them in print in The Review so they’ll be on record when Merriam-Webster researches their origins. One of my dreams is to have my name in M-W etymologies. I haven’t seen any success yet with quanswer (question-and-answer), but maybe cell phone terms will prosper.
A close relation to cellph-absorbed is cellph-centered. Cellph-absorbed implies mere foolishness, a lack of awareness of one’s surroundings, while cellph-centered indicates cellphishness, a more deliberate uncaring about other people. Cellph-deceit and cellph-delusion are the cellph-centered cellph phone carrier’s illusion that his cell phone song at best pleases those around him or at worst doesn’t bother them, not caring whether or not others share his taste in his music or want to be subjected to music while working or talking or doing any number of jobs. For cell phone songs, I completely reject the term ring tone, which is used to describe those repugnant electronic tunes that emanate from purses and desks. As you may have gathered, I don’t like cell phones playing music, but I also object to the term “ring tone.” A tone is one musical note, so a song playing on a cell phone can’t by definition be called a ring tone; it is a series of tones. It should be called a ring tune. It could be called a ring song if words were sung, but if it lacks words it’s a ring tune. And because most of those tunes are annoying up-tempo extravaganzas, I coined the term “annoyring tune.” Occasionally I hear something I like, such as Steve Wiandt’s “Canon in D” by Pachelbel, but most annoyring tunes make me grit my teeth until the cellph-deluded owner returns from the bathroom or extracts the phone from her archaeological handbag after digging through lots of stuff I don’t want to know about. Sometimes those ring tunes get in my head and won’t go away, and I dubbed that happening a “ringworm,” derived from the term “earworm,” a song that is stuck in your brain.
A few people dislike cell phone tunes. I was impressed when I attended the Weather Spotter training in March. Twice during Gary Garnet’s presentation cell phones rang, and both times Gary said, “You got that?” not in a mean manner but not apologizing for expecting phones to be turned off during his presentation. It’s sad that every play I attend now begins with “We ask that all cell phones and pagers be turned off,” and when that announcement is made, several audience members must hunt for the off buttons. If they carry a phone everywhere, why isn’t the off button a matter of course? And while I’m on the subject of “off,” I don’t like the term “hang up” for ending a call on a phone that you don’t hang up. It’s more correct to say, “Turn off that stupid phone, you cellph-centered moron!” And I don’t like using the term “dial.” That’s as outmoded as televisions that required walking across the room to operate. We enter or touch a number, I don’t even like the term “punch,” because you don’t hit the buttons with your fist, but no dial is involved.
The last straw in cellph-centered phone users is the cell pacer, the guy who walks back and forth while talking, allowing him to annoy a whole roomful of people. Advancing technology leads to the need for new laws, many of which would be unnecessary if people would practice common sense and consideration, or if they used ring tunes of which I approve. Until then, I propose that cell phone tunes be banned the same way smoking has been banned. Businesses could have signs posted listing an 800 number at which to report the cellphish offender. Perhaps I’ll write my friends in Columbus.

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