The dual-function narcissism of the camera/ phone hybrid now allows for unprecedented levels of both self-absorption and profound annoyance to others.  Now, we can capture baby Junior’s precious and unique regurgitation of pureed lentils with the same device we would use to carry on a public analysis of last night’s episode of Skating With The Stars. And best of all, we can do all of this while driving very dangerously.

While I’m loath to be the spoilsport of this multi-tasking party, I feel compelled to at least offer a rule of thumb for the polite and considerate use of these devices. My very simple request is as follows:  

Do not answer your camera/ phone and chat about your grocery list while someone is agonizingly posed for the photo you insisted on taking.

 As a person who especially eschews posing for photos, I cannot stress this point strongly enough.

This very scenario was recently played out quite painfully in my own life. After being ambushed by a self-proclaimed “long-lost friend” on the street one afternoon, I was further debased by being cajoled into posing for a photo in front of an unremarkable tree.

As I stood there, trapped like a rat with my contrived smile, the digitized strains of “We Are Family” resounded from the “camera,” cleverly signifying to my captor that, in fact, it was a representative of her family calling. To my grinning horror, she answered the camera as I stood there awaiting my photo opportunity.

“Honey, you’ll never guess who I ran into!” she gushed, smiling at me. I attempted to smile back, but I cannot imagine that the rictus of pain reflected on my features was particularly friendly.

It was my two worst nightmares rolled into one: being forced to pose for a picture, and being forced to listen to someone else’s insipid telephone conversation. Only a prolonged discussion about lettuce could have worsened the situation.

A prolonged discussion about lettuce ensued.

 “I’m tired of radicchio. Mesclun, I think,” she said. “Get some mesclun and goat cheese.”
”CHEESE,” I parroted frantically, hoping to remind her of the reason I was standing there.

This elicited only the quizzical and concerned expression that one might give a mentally slow child.

So I waited through several interminable seconds of lettuce deliberation, which finally culminated in the decision to buy a bag of “spring mix”, which is essentially no decision at all.

Finally, she got off the camera, and apologetically announced her need to get home in time for dinner. The photo was left untaken. Apparently, there was no longer a need for a picture valued at a thousand words, when she had probably disgorged at least 60,000 on the topic of salad greens.

In this way, the world becomes more annoying every day through the miracle of technology. I can only imagine what other two maddening habits might next be consolidated into a single gizmo. 

In the meantime, smile – it’s for you.