Monday, March 1, 2010

That's an awesome kid you're raising there, "dad"

I'm pretty sure this is another commercial for Sprint, which is currently leading the "don't ever do anything that doesn't involve using your phones" charge among cell service providers. But really, does it matter?

A bemused (or deflated, defeated, and probably never made much effort at imposing simple, necessary discipline and self-restraint) dad is asking the disembodied voice of the commercial's narrator for "help" in handling the family's cell phone bill. "What if you have a daughter who sent 35,000 texts last month?"

Zombie Daughter, staring at the screen of her phone with an intently focused, "why won't the non-cell phone world just go away" look on her face-- "that's an exaggeration."

Deflated Dad: "No it isn't."

Of course, the commercial doesn't address the real problem- that this daughter has a serious addiction to her phone, which has taken over her life in an alarmingly unhealthy way. According to Sprint, it's not even worth noting that 35,000 text messages in a month means 1166 messages per day. Assuming sixteen hours of wakefulness per day (considering how many of my students fall asleep first period because they've been online or on their phones until 2 AM, maybe this is a misguided assumption,) that's seventy-three texts per hour-- just over one per minute. No, the "problem" is the cost of all these messages, which is "solved" by getting Unlimited Texting from Sprint.

I wish a parent would explain to me why this commercial is amusing and helpful, rather than sad. I wish a parent would shoot me an email telling me that they couldn't care less if their children are basically doing nothing BUT texting people- and that the only problem they associate with this "activity" is the cost involved.

I wish kids who do a lot of texting would explain to me how and if they manage to carry out actual conversations with human beings in the vicinity while they are texting others. I wish they would explain to me why texting is preferable to talking, not to mention preferable to engaging in sports, reading, or any of the wide range of activities you simply cannot participate in fully with a cell phone attached to your hand.

Most of all, I wish Sprint and all the other cell phone companies would explain to me why they think that the pursuit of the Allmighty Dollar is worth crippling an entire generation of young people, who will one day look up from their screens to notice that something called Real Life has been going on around them, and all they have to show for their youth is an overloaded In Box and callouses. Oh, and bad grades- at least four of my students will be taking history again next year, because they spent the 2009-10 term in the bathrooms tapping away at their beeping little toys.


  1. Good post. Why teach your child to be responsible? Instead of taking the effing cell phone away, enable your kid by getting a "better" cell phone plan!
    I also can't stand the knew Iphone ad in which the female voice over talks about their last vacation and all the things she did with her phone on the way to the flight. I found the kids a snack in the terminal with my Iphone. Gee, I could do that by looking around with my EYES!! What would this simpering fool do if her phone broke? Curl up in the fetal position and start drooling?

  2. I also wish the cell phone companies wouldn't give us thirty second versions of the same awful sitcoms that surround their ads.

  3. I teach at a private school where tuition runs upward of $20,000 per year. It makes me sick to realize that several students are so grateful for their parents' sacrifice that they are cutting classes to text people from the bathrooms.

  4. Czaerana, I just saw that ad last night. Seems to me that all this woman did on the way to the flight was stare at her stupid phone- it's a wonder her kids didn't wander off and get lost. I wonder how many times they asked her to explain something, only to have zombie mom ignore them. I wonder how many shops she wandered past while running her finger around her I Phone looking for the things she'd see if she just looked up for a moment.

  5. ...and my guess is that if she's that addicted to her phone on the way to the plane, chances are she spent her entire vacation consulting that fucking thing every few seconds as well. I bet her kids really love the fact that mommy loves her I phone so much. When I take my long walks through parks and I see endless numbers of parents texting and talking to their phones while their kids wander around, clearly having given up any hope of competing with Mommy's Blinking Noisy Toy, I wonder how much unexpressed resentment is building up in those children.