Remember when Billy would lean over and whisper into Johnnie's ear about something. All the while, Johnnie was watching you and then, suddenly the two would burst into laughter? Or how about when Eileen whispered to Alice and she wrinkled her nose while staring at you.
You felt left out and the butt of the joke.
You were taught it was rude and inappropriate to whisper when somebody else was in the room, even if the secret wasn't about them. Still, there were those who felt it was the only way to discuss a matter of sudden urgency that you didn't need to know.
Today? There's a whole new way to do this and it is just about as impolite as actually whispering in another's ear.
I first noticed this a few years back while I still was a member of the work force. I'd attended an office meeting with approximately ten other co-workers. We sat around a large table with our Blackberrys to take notes.
DINK-DINK. I had a text message. I discreetly brought it up and read the note. My one co-worker, sitting across the table from me had sent: Can you believe this blowhard?
Stupidly, I replied: At least the coffee is hot.
Several more texts were passed before I realized the speaker was now noticeably watching us. I smiled at the speaker and turned off my Blackberry and became more studious of what was being said. My co-worker, instead, found a new connection, the person to my left. They texted for several minutes until she burst out laughing. Our boss asked us ALL to put our Blackberrys away and to take hand-written notes.
The "whispering" didn't stop there. I started to notice more and more indications of whispering. Two young girls, sitting in front of me on the public bus, sat, enthralled with their phones, texting. Rather than talking so others could hear them, they were texting each other and giggling. So, if you're in a public place and see two or three people actively texting on the cellphones, giggling or nodding while giving you that strange look, you might be the brunt of their high-tech whispering. Just remember, the whole world isn't out to get you, just part of it.
Anyway, at that moment I thought I'd seen it all, two people sitting side-by-side and not talking, but texting to communicate.
I was wrong!
My son, his wife, and their daughter got new cellphones. They came to the house for a social get-together - I think it was either Thanksgiving or Easter. My son was sitting in the living room with me and his wife and daughter were in the kitchen with my wife. He took a message and replied. I didn't think too much of it. Every so often, he'd text something to somebody. My granddaughter's boyfriend showed up and we were all in the living room. Yup, my granddaughter was texting her father, mother and boyfriend. The four of them were having separate conversations. Were they about me or my wife? I don't know, I didn't care. They were all using my wi-fi so I realized that I had control. My other kids and their kids showed up and everyone - except me - seemed intent on texting each other. Grandkids were texting grandkids, my sons were texting their wives or kids and vice-versa. It didn't matter, nobody was really talking. I knew what I had to do.
Next social get-together, their phones didn't work. They didn't connect to my wi-fi automatically, even though they'd been given the password prior and saved it. I'd changed the password. As they tried to connect and couldn't, they'd ask for the password. I told them that once everyone was present, I'd give them the new password. I used the ploy of not wanting to have to repeat is that many times.
With the family all present, I established the rules of the house. We were gathering for a social event. To make it a social event, we needed to talk, not text, each other. I'd be willing to share the password on the condition there was no texting between family members or over-socializing on social media while at my house. Everyone sheepishly agreed and I gave the new password. They connected so their phones would work. Now, when they visit, the phones stay pretty much in the purses or pockets and there is verbalization between family members.
I even caught one grandchild leaning over to whisper in another's ear! All three of us giggled. Sure, it was rude, but at the same time, it was nice to see kids talking to each other, not texting.