Oh, yes, the Baker Street Irregulars of New York are still out there.
For those of you who are new to the Sherlock scene, the Baker Street Irregulars of New York are considered one of the oldest and most respected Sherlock Holmes clubs in the world. Its primary function is holding one dinner a year on the weekend closest to Sherlock Holmes's birthday, though their website would seem to indicate their primary functions are putting out a journal and maintaining an archive. The B.S.I. is a great example of something that starts as a fun, carefree little club and eventually becomes a serious, important institution over the course of eighty years.
How serious? How important?
Well, the sovereign of the group seems to have actually considered confiscating cell phones from the membership at the annual dinner this year, for the duration of the program. And, yes, these are full-grown adults he was considering this with. Why?
Well, apparently some of the older generation of Irregulars find it offensive that some attendees are paying more attention to their phones than said older attendees. I'm very familiar with this sort of disagreement, as my loyal companion Carter and I have long had little debates as to whether or not looking at a phone is rude behavior. Among the younger people I socialize with, however, it's perfectly common and acceptable to listen to someone while looking at your phone. Multi-tasking, as our demanding workplaces call it, a part of everyday American life. But a lot of older folks, entering the "get off my lawn" phase of life, find it quite abhorrent.
The thing I've noticed about this smartphone issue is simple: If you're interesting enough, you can have anyone's complete attention, phone or no. Smartphones are only rude if you can't accept the fact that maybe, just maybe, you aren't holding someone's attention. Social Darwinism at work.
Smartphones are a part of modern culture. Sharing one's life in real-time is a part of it as well. For a group leader who purposefully avoided the internet itself with an overly proud anti-tech boast for as long as humanly possible to treat his group's membership as an unruly class of school kids for being part of the modern world . . . well, it's just a little bit silly. And not helpful in moving the club forward into the world it actually exists in. People not at the BSI dinner would be much more excited about it if they could share in the festivities via those attendees kind enough to stay in touch with social media during the happenings there. It can also enhance the experience for those attending, believe it or not, as they share their feelings with people even just on the other side of the room.
What amuses me the most about this little situation is that after all the fuss made over the selection of just the correct Sherlockians for inclusion in the exclusive society, after the careful screening of those who just want an invitation to the party, the group's "benevolent" dictator feels the need to chastise his chosen few about their phone manners. So much for all that careful selection.
But as said leader states during the close of his cell phone chastisement in this year's invitation letter, "The BSI is a private society," which roughly translates to "I'm the boss. Deal."
And he is, and that's that, proud Luddite attitudes or no. But like I said, if you're interesting enough, you can get someone to quit looking at their phone. So if you're looking for me this January, rest assured, I'll be here in Peoria . . .
. . . looking at my phone.