As an unlicensed sociologist and amateur lexicographer, I have a observed a new thing, and it is a thing in need of a name.
I was in Sears, scrutinizing the merits of food processors, when two people walked by—or rather, strutted by. The trailing party carried a cell phone playing hip-hop music, which you can imagine sounded like an Oompa Loompa clinking a thimble. Both of the young men stared me down in that peculiar way that is both corroborating and threatening. Their heads bobbed and they strolled on, leaving me in the Rachel Ray dust.
It occurred to me this was a pedestrian version of the booming of bass and slow-roll that you get on the road, sometimes at traffic lights. (It may be that it happens primarily between men, even young men.) But this was in the Sears housewares department. How is this now possible? It seems the smart phone has made it possible. The smart phone, in addition to bringing the nuisance of being contacted to every moment of our lives, has brought the exterior to the interior, the street to the aisle.
Of course, thirty years ago or more we had the sidewalk version of the auditory intruder in the boom box toted atop the shoulder. The cost of DD batteries and rotator cuff surgery were, I assume, contributors to the extinction of this trend.
What’s needed is a word for this bipedal behavior. We need a verb tense, so we can say, “I’m headed down to the farmer’s market to _________ those basil-buying motherfuckas.” And a transitive verb tense: “I was testing a lovely egg plant at the co-op when I was rudely ________ -ed by Rhianna on an iPhone.” Noun form: “Fellow house members, I urge you to pass this bill outlawing ________-ing in St. Paul’s city limits. Let’s restore peace and sanity to Minnesota’s mall shoppers and park-goers. Let’s end the tyranny of tinny Lil Wayne, treble-rich 50 Cent, and distorted Dessa. Let’s make our sidewalks, promenades, esplanades, and catwalks quiet again, but for the soothing sounds of Muzak Elton John and classic Journey hits, which I think we can all agree are desirable in public locations.”
- bitoluting/bitolution (to pollute with bits)