One of the things I don’t understand (and there are a lot of them) is why it is so important for people to play with their electronic toys — such as iPads and cell phones — while they are on an airplane.
Playing with those devices creates a phrenetic tension on the part of the user. You can see the muscles flexing, the body jerking, the mouth twisting. It isn’t as though they are relaxing at a coffee shop table, enjoying a latte and scoping the room to people-watch as they type or rub away at their electronic gear.
On a jetliner, one already must cope with the normal stresses of hurdling through the atmosphere in an aluminum tube crammed together with others who are likely to be equally nervous, even trying to keep from throwing up if the air is a little rough. Users appear as unfortunates who might have taken too much meth.
News that airlines now are allowed to grant their passengers the privilege (notice I didn’t say “right”) to use electronic devices seems to have been met with joy, not only on the part of passengers, but of cabin stewards as well. The cabin stewards didn’t like being the “iPad police,” as one cabin attendant on JetBlue characterized how she had perceived her role.
Using the devices won’t be all free and joyful, however. Pilots can still tell you to shut your devices off, items as large or larger than laptops have to be stored in overhead bins, and phone calls remain banned in flight. No calling the spouse to say when you’ll be home except after the plane has landed.
In the old days, one could read books or magazines in flight, and there were no rules, much less tension. One just read and relaxed until one’s eyes fell shut and a nap set in. Oh, progress, how painful is thy sting.