Greetings from the Ridge.
“There it is, boys! The invention I’ve been waiting for my whole life!”
Mike was our local mechanic and the thing he’d thumped down in the midst of the gathered locals was the town’s first crescent wrench. The adjustable wrench had been invented years ago, but the day it arrived in Coonridge was marked by a resounding chorus of joy from farmers and mechanics no longer forced to carry 30 tools around from job to job.
I felt a little of that same thrill last week when I read about the Dolmio Pepper Hacker. Folks in Sydney, Australia, found that two-thirds of Aussie families reported that the use of cell phones and other connective devises were causing arguments at the supper table and that four out of five Australia families felt the devices should be banned when the family sits down to eat. Dolmio, a pasta sauce company, thought it was time to reclaim that most precious of family time, so they invented a pepper grinder that shuts off Wi-Fi, TVs, phones and other electronic devises.
The company put the product out in a few test homes and claims that the signal-blocking devices work exactly as planned. Once you start grinding your pepper, all devices attuned to the system go dead. Dolmio asked and received permission to install hidden cameras in each of the test homes to see the reactions.
For some of the unsuspecting eaters, the world came to an end. When they put the videos online, the product got 82 million rave reviews in the first month. Technology had successfully hacked dinnertime and the result was genuine conversation around the pasta and potatoes. One of the first test mothers said, “It perfectly shows that once you disconnect from your technology at the dinner table, you can connect as a family.”
Of course, the Pepper Hacker caused a bit of consternation when foisted on unsuspecting family members. The hidden cameras displayed teenage girls throwing themselves onto couches in sobbing despair, little boys smashing their phones against the wall and one father storming out of the house to go buy a new phone in the middle of dinner.
An addiction? Surely not!
“We believe that meals shared with family and friends are often distracted by the very technology that is supposed to bring us together,” said Richard Stear, Dolmio’s marketing director.
Amen, Brother Richard.
The French have an even broader approach. It’s now legal for movie theaters and concert halls to install phone-jamming devices with only emergency-coded calls allowed to override the block. Herb and I attended a musical theater performance a few weeks ago in a 2,000-seat venue. The show was designed for the Baby Boomer generation and the few teens in attendance probably were there under protest. Act I lasted an hour and, when the intermission lights came up, I experienced a bit of déjà vu, recalling when I’d helped my dad feed hogs on the farm.
I’ve never visited an actual crack house, but the drooling anxiety of addiction for my generation to check cell phones was much akin to what happens when my father poured the first bucket of corn into the hog troughs. I am not exaggerating to say that the theater could have turned off the house lights and the auditorium still would have been illuminated plentifully by the glow of a thousand shimmering screens.
I applaud the Aussies’ attempt to hand a bit of civilization back to us. Unfortunately, our own Federal Communications Commission will not allow such devices in the land of the free and the home of the handheld. The good news: You can buy the devices; the bad: You can be arrested for using them. If a $16,000 fine for each jammed dinner is worth it to you, then go ahead and twist your pepper shaker.
Jason R. Humphreys of Tampa, Florida, was tired of being surrounded by drivers on their cellphones during his morning and evening commute so he rigged a signal jammer in his SUV to prevent his fellow motorists from killing him while being distracted by their phones. Jason R. Humphreys now is facing a $48,000 fine.
He should have used more pepper.
You ever in Coonridge, stop by. We may not answer the door, but you’ll enjoy the trip.
Freida Marie Crump chronicles the comings and goings in Coonridge for the Journal-Courier.
Source : http://www.myjournalcourier.com/opinion/columns/114922/commentary-when-in-doubt-use-more-pepper