The Digital Age Takes Over

June 22, 2016


In Manhattan, the Harvard, Penn, Princeton, Columbia and other Ivy League clubs are located between West 43rd and 44th Streets just off Fifth Avenue.

I was in the lobby of one of these clubs recently and observed a young lady, who was seated directly across from me, chatting on her cellphone while shuffling papers on her lap. Out of the blue, one of the club’s employees came over, tapped her on the shoulder and put a small brass sign on the glass table in front of her.

She took one look at the sign, became slightly upset, then got up quickly and left. After a few minutes my curiosity got the better of me so I reached over and turned the sign around.  Guess what it said? “No cell phones allowed.”

I was very surprised because I had never seen this before and thought it was handled very diplomatically. I later found out that all the private clubs in Manhattan have restrictions as to exactly where a cellphone may be used in their clubhouse. It’s made very clear that there are designated spots for receiving or making calls.

I first became aware of how intrusive cells can be when I was grabbing a quick bite in one of Lord & Taylor’s restaurants. I was sitting next to a middle-aged woman who was in a full-fledged battle with her aging mother over her recent purchases. I thought the call would never end.

My interest was really peaked when I saw an article in the New York Observer on 3/28/16 titled “I-DDICTION. When your mobile device takes possession of your life” by Richard Kirshenbaum who says, “Poor mobile manners are now so commonplace that I decided to create a taxonomy of the different species of transgressors.”

He goes on to list seven hilarious categories – we’ll look at three here.


“It was New Year’s break and the adults-only pool at a well-known resort beckoned as an oasis of calm and quiet during the packed holiday week. I nabbed a solitary lounge chair, ordered a white wine and dove into a new book in much-anticipated solitude.”

“Just as I settled in, I heard a ring tone, followed by a booming nasal voice. The braying belonged to a well-preserved woman sitting on a nearby lounge who proceeded to treat nearby guests to a 30-minute description of her previous evening’s exploits.”


“The subject of children’s cellphone protocol arose with my luncheon guest who said, “Look, I think we are all guilty of wanting some adult conversation, and when the kids whip out their cellphones, at least they’re not fighting. I call it the teen pacifier,” he began. “So you allow your kids to have cellphones at the table?” “Yes, and you?” “I let the children have their cellphones until the food comes and then they have to put them away.


This is definitely Kirshenbaum’s best example of cellphone misuse. A friend of his relates, “I was just visiting a relative in an Intensive Care Unit where they do not allow cellphone calls. They can upset the heart machines. They even have those signs on the walls with a cellphone crossed out in red.” Incredibly, people still use them. They just keep talking on their cellphones. I think people simply don’t care.”

Why be glued to a cellphone when you can watch the real thing?

Based on the number of people I see every day talking to one another, one-on-one conversations are still very much alive – even in this digital age.

Shaun Nelson-HenrickSaveSaveSave

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