The Luddite diaries

Has technology become too annoying?

With the semester now in full swing, students seem to have settled into a rather

comfortable mode here on campus.

We manage to eat (Aramark R.I.P.), drink and be merry.

That is, of course, until we enter a classroom for a lecture.

For years, a major complaint among UH students has been the ongoing construction and its consequences. In many buildings, students could not hear their professors properly because of the disruptive noise. Other buildings had trouble with air conditioning.

I can personally attest to this. No one can know what unjustified punishment is without experiencing weeks on end on the sixth floor of Agnes Arnold Hall without air conditioning (and to think that we pay for this.)

This time around, the complaint is not about the construction; it's about communication.

Yes, my friends, as technology becomes more accessible, the once quiet sanctuary of learning otherwise known as a classroom crumbles to the ground.

Can't you hear it crumbling? No? Well, that is probably because somewhere in your vicinity, a cell phone is ringing like a fire alarm. Maybe you hear a pager going off. Even worse, maybe you hear someone conversing with the cell phone, begging it to ring.

One would think it absurd to take a test amid the whimsical music of phones ringing, pagers buzzing and muffled voices whispering, "Hey, what's up? I can't talk right now. Dude, I'm taking a test."

Well, surprise, surprise. It happened to me.

I had to take my first test this week and found the challenge lying not in the actual test, but in keeping myself focused amid the cacophony. For a while, I thought I was in a special center for exotic tropical birds and insects.

At the beggining of my test, I heard a loud buzzing noise.

"Is that a wasp?" I asked naively.

"Na," said a guy sitting in front of me. "It's my pager."

It was his pager. His pager was the reason I almost broke my neck trying to locate a rather frightening insect.

Do you see how dangerous these tools of communication can be? Just hearing them made me so delusional that

I thought I was in a tropical rain forest in South America.

I became paranoid and

aggressive.

I thought I was being stalked by a wasp. (Do I need to mention the sweating and nausea?)

Surely what I experienced is not at all uncommon. I'm not a Beeper-Nazi, as a friend accused me of being recently.

I realize that beepers and

cell phones are not just recreational. For some, they're a necessity.

If you think about it, a lot

of people have the same fatal attraction to cigarettes. Without a cigarette, some people simply cannot function, just as some people cannot function without talking on their cell phones.

It's an addiction, and a costly one at that. While smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer, frequent use of cell phones has been linked to brain tumors.

Health risks, however, are not the issue. Right now, we are talking about respect for fellow students, something which many of our technologically inclined friends have forgotten.

If people want to ring, beep and buzz all day, that is certainly their choice to make.

It is when they decide to do

it on my time that the

problem rises.

We all pay for an education, not for new and innovative sounds to be added to the soundtrack of our lives.

Amanda

Mahmoudi

Mahmoudi, a junior French and German major, plans a future of peace and quiet in a Third World country. She can be reached at amahmoud@bayou.uh.edu.

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