By Dorothy Knight Burchett
Years ago, in the ’70s and ’80s, we had a telephone on the wall. We also had three children under the age of five at one time. The telephone was in the middle of the dining room, where we ate, because the kitchen, where I prepared meals, was small and located quite a distance from the phone. Our dining room was large—13 x 14 feet, actually. Well, my mother, who lived alone, would get very lonely. We had moved to Clarion just a few years before I got married and she didn’t know a lot of people, so, when she needed someone to talk to, she would call one of her children. Since I was the closest child and the call was not long distance, I got the majority of those calls. In fact, Mom would call me many times a day—as many as five or more. And she didn’t call for a quick hello. She wanted to talk. And, since she didn’t get out much and neither did I, there wasn’t a lot to talk about. But, since I knew Mom was lonely, I held on for as long as she needed. It was hard to get work done, however. I would reach out as far as I could to do a little sweeping or dusting, or to stack the dishes from the last meal, but I was limited to a 6-foot cord. If the children needed something, they would have to come to me. Eventually, I got a 15-foot cord, so I could make it just around the corner to the kitchen and put a few dirty dishes on the stove, or bring a pan in to set on the table. I think we must have got a cordless phone at some point in time, but I don’t remember it. How convenient it is now to have a cell phone. Except for misplacing it from time to time, it is usually at my finger-tips. I can put it on speaker phone and be very mobile. I can go about my daily work and still engage someone in conversation. (That someone is not Mom, as she passed away many years ago.) I can text, too. That is even more convenient, as it is quicker to text than to make a telephone call just to ask someone a quick question, such as, “Are you going to the dance Sunday?” That’s as tech savvy as I am, though. I don’t do Facebook and I don’t tweet. Well, a couple of days ago, a friend texted me to ask a quick question. I answered in a short text as I began to wash dishes. Then she texted me back with another question. I dried my hands and texted her back. A few minutes went by and she texted me again. I dried my hands and answered. This continued for, at least, 15 minutes. I had to keep taking my hands out of the dish water and dry my hands to answer the latest text message. My towel was getting water logged. Of course, my friend didn’t know I was doing this. However, it would have been a lot easier for me to have taken a call, put it on speaker phone and continued washing dishes uninterrupted. I might as well have been tied to a telephone on the wall. Well, speaking of Facebook and tweeting, I was watching Dr. Phil the other day. Miss Michigan was on, complaining that she lost her title because of something she had tweeted. Actually, she was tweeting in response to what someone else had tweeted. What she said, though, did not meet the standards of political correctness. She was beautiful, intelligent, articulate and open-minded. She was open to hearing the other side of the story. Apparently, the contest committee members did not agree. I believe Dr. Phil missed a great opportunity to commiserate with her and speak out about bullying on social media, but, instead, he chastised her for using this platform to answer the tweet. He thought she should write an essay and link it to the tweet. I believe he could have said that people should not lose their jobs because they disagree with the prevailing opinion. It happens more often than we might suspect. Why should a person be intimidated and assaulted because their opinion is different? Or lose their jobs? Thoughtful discussion used to be the hallmark of American society. It seems to me that the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution is being eroded into freedom of speech, as long as it agrees with political correctness. It looks as though society could be becoming tied to a wall of their-own making. If you haven’t read the book 1984, by George Orwell, this is the time.