Those “portable electronic devices”

portable electronic devices aboard flight 695I was on a late flight from Raleigh to Dallas Thursday and walked to the rear of the plane to use the restroom and noticed something I’d not seen before. Perhaps it was the fact that it was dark in the cabin that made me notice, but 95 percent of the people on that flight were using what the airlines lovingly call “portable electronic devices.” The other five percent were asleep.

Laptops, DVD players, Gameboys, PSPs, PDAs, you name it. Everybody was entertaining themselves — or working — in the main cabin. I took a picture of the people near me to give you an idea of what it was like.

I fly a lot and have for years, and I’ve never noticed this before. The image from the rear of the cabin was truly amazing, and it speaks volumes about our culture. Our portable electronic devices are a permanent part of us today, and there’s a certain degree of discomfort that sets in when we’re separated from them. You only have to watch what happens when the flight attendant advises everybody that it’s time to put them away. What does one do, just sit there? OMFG, what a nightmare!

I’m in my seventh decade of existence on this planet, and of all the amazing things I’ve witnessed, portable computing is the most incredible. People who grow up with this will doubtless look back at my generation as archaic and old fashioned (“You mean you actually played with rocks and sticks?”), and I only hope that history credits our resisting enslavement to the institutions of the West for at least a part of the freedom they will enjoy.

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