CB radios were the Twitter of their day

  • Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I’d like to thank all the readers who tried to help me start a Twitter trend with last week’s column.

Though the hashtag I started in last week’s column may not have made it to the top 10 trends list on Twitter, the column itself quite possibly had a major impact on the future leadership of the free world.

You see, within a week of my column about Twitter and its influence on politics and culture, Hillary Clinton jumped into the fray and got on Twitter. Surely, surely, somebody forwarded her my column in the Moultrie News and she figured that if she was going to be the next leader of the free world, she better get started with her Twitter feed. I just know it.

I was contemplating this over the weekend as I drove up to Sumter to spend Fathers’ Day with my father.

Just after I turned onto I-95 from I-26, there was a team of three or four South Carolina Highway patrol cars pulling speeders.

I want to say that I have no problem with this at all and I applaud law enforcement for what they do. They go to work each day knowing that their lives are on the line, and they’re on the line for you and me. You’ll never hear me complain about them enforcing the law. The experience of seeing multiple blue lights on the highway and thinking about social media made me realize that whether we realize it or not, we all had experience with social media decades ago, only that term didn’t yet exist. I’m referring to CB radio. The younger generation has no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But if you were around in the 1970s, especially if you were of driving age, you couldn’t miss the CB radio fad. The fad seemed to come out of nowhere – once the exclusive realm of truckers, then good ol’ boys in pickups got them and soon every wood-paneled Buick station wagon and “deuce and a quarter” going down the interstate “had their ears on.” You could almost tell how fast someone was driving by the movement of their big ol’ “whoop antenna.” Remember?

The sight of the highway patrol cars on I-95 gave me a flashback to the old days when a sight like that would light up the CB radio (Channel 19, if my memory is correct) with chatter about “smoky the bear” and the Interstate mile marker where he waited.

As a teenager with a newly issued driver’s license, I just knew the advent of the CB radio meant I’d never get a speeding ticket in my lifetime. Little did any of us realize it, but that was our first experience with social media (With the possible exception of the “slang” or “slam” books that were spread around in sixth grade, which were pretty much the spiral notebook precursor to Facebook).

Likewise, little did we realize that for all their promise and our expectations, CB’s weren’t the death knell for speeding tickets. Not for any of us – not then, not now.

What these media reveal about us, I believe, is that as our suburban, car-centered, cyberworld way of life disconnects us more and more from people and community, the more we search for ways to reestablish that connection and a sense of community. Such connection and human interaction is written in our DNA somewhere.

It’s part of the human experience. So “Like” if you agree, re-tweet, or say “10-4 good buddy.”

Will Haynie has published more than 400 oped columns as a feature columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times and the Hendersonville (N.C.) Times-News when it was owned by the New York Times. His niche is as a humorous conservative. Find him on Twitter at @willhaynie or email him at Haynie.will@gmail.com.

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