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By Staff | Mar 11, 2011

Digital distractions

My wife and I saw it yet again the other day. We were enjoying a meal at a fine local restaurant when we noticed that the table next to us, which was occupied by a quartet of young ladies, had fallen suddenly silent. And no, it wasn’t because they had all simultaneously started to choke on their McRib sandwiches. They were all texting. Every single one of the four young ladies had dropped everything just so they could text on their cell phones. What’s the point of going out to lunch together if you’re going ignore each other as you hunch over that tiny screen and mash those teeny little buttons with your thumbs? Why can’t you simply talk and look one another in the face instead of posting to Facebook? It seems that technology has made many improbable things commonplace, including being totally alone even when you’re with someone. A while back my wife and I went out of an evening to have some refreshments with one of my wife’s young female coworkers. The young lady spent the bulk of the evening staring at her lap. And no, it wasn’t because she was intolerably shy; it was due to the fact that her lap is where she held her cell phone when she texted. As if holding it there made it so that we wouldn’t notice that she was present but otherwise occupied! This behavior was annoying to say the least. Some might call it downright impolite, but we’re not the sort of people who are prone to passing judgment, especially when it comes to the lack of social skills in these modern young whippersnappers. As slighted as we may have felt, her date must have deemed himself even lower on totem pole that evening. That’s right: all the while the young lady was sitting with us, she was on a “date” with some guy! A guy who was actually in an entirely separate building! How did their date end? With an exchange of texted emoticons? Call me old-fashioned, but I would much prefer concluding an evening out with a lady with something more traditional. As if there weren’t enough digital distractions, there is now this thing called Twitter. Any time of the day or night, Twitter enables you to share your deepest, innermost thoughts — even if your thoughts aren’t all that deep or even very thoughtful. Tweeting strikes me as just another source of botheration. On the other hand, it might furnish some perspicacious insights regarding a person’s personal psyche. Let’s check in on the tweets of the mythical DairyFarmerInTheDell: 4:30 a.m.! What a glorious morning on the dairy farm! I pity those who never get up in time to see the sunrise! Even if it’s still 2 hours away! 4:35. I see that Lulu Belle is about to give birth! Nothing like a new calf to lift a dairy farmer’s spirits! 5:02. No progress on the new calf. East door is frozen shut. Broke spade handle trying to pry it open. Dairy farming = fun but challenging! 5:13. Stupid door won’t budge. Have also broken shovel handle and am looking for the pickaxe. Lulu Belle needs to get down to the business at hand. 5:32. Am now officially late starting this morning’s milking. Pickaxe handle also proved defective. Plan B: thaw door with hot water. Lazy cow needs to cough out that calf! 5:41. Emptied the hot water heater and door is still frozen shut. Am looking for alternative thawing agent, wish I drank more coffee this morn! Am also searching for calf puller. 5:52. Called the wife to ask about calf puller. Learned that she had stored it in the utility room. She said that’s where it belongs! Who thinks like that? 6:09. Lulu Belle seems uninterested in giving birth, so continued to work on the frozen door. Have busted all the tools in the barn. May have to use my teeth. 6:10. On the door, that is. Not on Lulu Belle. 6:21. Was finally able to kick the door free. May have broken some toes in the process. Lulu Belle has at last decided to Get Serious about calving! 6:32. It’s a heifer! Didn’t need the puller after all, just a hearty tug with some baling twine! Calf shot out and knocked me right over. 6:33. Calf and I are both just lying here, catching our breaths. Am feeling a bit wet and slimy. 6:35. Lulu Belle is vigorously cleaning both me and the calf. Just noticed that the sunrise is magnificent from here, on the floor of the calving pen. The start of another great day on the dairy!

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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