I HATE cellphones. I don't want everyone to know where I am, all the time. As a nurse, I am congenitally unable not to answer a ringing telephone (who knows what emergency is at the other end?) In the bath, on the toilet, sound asleep...
And the way other people behave with them is even worse. Back in the Seventies, when I came to Israel, it often took between 5 and 10 years to get a landline--Israel had barely completed its infrastructure when optical fiber technology came into existence, so the number of lines that could be carried on an old-fashioned cable, the only kind that had been laid, was far less than the demand for telephones--and when renting a flat, being able to advertise that you had a phone was a major selling point. Even though, by the time cellphones became available (at pretty exorbitant cost, initially), the Israeli equivalent of Ma Bell, Bezeq, had pretty much eliminated the waiting period, Israelis had become completely obsessive about telephones. The "security situation" of course plays a part--a car backfires and everyone who hears it begins telephoning all their loved ones to tell them they are OK. (And after every terrorist attack, one of the first things that happens is that the cellphone networks crash from the overload as people in opposite parts of the country begin calling everyone they know to find out that they're all right) It's not by chance that the only place with a higher degree of cellphone saturation is Hong Kong.
And Jews love to talk. And bargains. I have acquaintances who own phones belonging to each of the 4 networks and use them according to the current "special deal" for air time, etc. Bus drivers sell cards for the "pay-as-you go" type. It's bad enough that the buses themselves have exceptionally noisy motors and ventilating systems, and the drivers always seem to have the radio playing at full blast ("public service" so you don't miss a single newscast--another Israeli obsession) but everyone is shouting--and I do mean shouting, over the din--all the current details of their life (and the details of everyone else's) into the phone glued to their ears. Since about 85% of the population is right-handed, this means that in another decade or two we should begin to see a mass epidemic of left-sided hearing loss and maybe brain tumors. And now all the kids are vying with one another for the latest 3-G telephone, so that they can squint at the tiny screen to see their favorite singer's latest video clip or a nude photo of their boy/girlfriends. An optician's dream--an entire generation with eye strain and glasses.
We have long since outstripped the small annoyance of telephones ringing during movies, or in restaurants, or in class. Forget about honking at a pedestrian strolling across the street just in front of your car. He/she is undoubtedly entirely engrossed in a telephone conversation. But then, as you are probably trying to make a U-turn while trying to keep the telephone wedged between your ear and your shoulder (yes! I actually saw a driver do this the other day, totally unable to look right or left but both hands were on the wheel so I guess we have to give the driver some credit) There are, of course, laws preventing the use of a cellphone without a hands-off speaker in a car. As with most laws of this nature in this country, priority goes to trying to keep civilians from being blown up and it isn't enforced.
The Nazis burned books, and then people. There is a film clip, endlessly repeated (especially when there is a discussion of restricting civil rights in some area) of the bonfires they lit and books and "degenerate" art being tossed onto the flames. I think of that brief film segment often. Light the fire, boys, I'm coming with my cellphone, and any others I can grab! (Or maybe we should just lock the developers of the cellphone into a padded cell with speakers in every corner, endlessly broadcasting recorded conversations, such as the details of Uncle Max's hemorrhoid operation, or the color of Diana's diarrhea, or 24 ways to cook zucchini...or maybe just a loop tape of the 50 most popular ringtones...)