Plugged In: New airplane electronic policy isn’t breaking news

Morgan Kinney, Columnist

The day has finally come: You can now use your cell phone and read your Kindle on airplanes during takeoff and landing (though phone calls remain prohibited). The Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday that airplane passengers will no longer suffer the immense hassle of not using electronics for several minutes.

There are some confusing details that remain to be sorted out. FAA officials made it clear this is not an immediate change, and it will roll out on an airline-by-airline basis. Also, electronic devices are only permitted for use in airplane mode, although it’s unclear how flight attendants will enforce this policy.

Although these changes are certainly convenient, it says something about our society when such trivial news is welcomed with such enthusiasm. CNN and The New York Times went so far as to send me a breaking news update — something usually reserved for important or shocking events.

It pains me to enter the sphere of whiners who shame their peers, but being without your cell phone or laptop for a moment should not induce a state of separation anxiety. You shouldn’t give a nasty look to the flight attendant who politely asks you to turn off your phone. You shouldn’t breathe a sigh of relief when the wheels hit the tarmac and you are reunited with your one true digital love.

The media has greeted this event as some divine blessing from the Lord above and so have my peers who’ve heard the news. But really, this is not that big of a deal. It probably amounts to 10 more minutes of mindless time on Facebook or Instagram. You might miss a few cat GIFs and tweets.

The reality is you likely weren’t doing anything important in those precious digital moments the FAA robbed you of for years and years. Thursday’s announcement marks the beginning of the end for those brief stretches of mandatory boredom in which you might have had a productive moment of introspection.

It was never truly a hassle to abide by the old rules, which makes it even more of a non-event that they have changed.

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