Along with the decline of the art of conversation, chivalry and western civilization, let's add in parades.
Because they sure ain't what they used to be.
Admittedly, my only frame of reference is the annual Christmas parade, which I see every year as a take my usual morning walk the first Saturday in December. I could walk another route, but why not take in this harbinger of the upcoming season?
The light rain didn't seem to diminish the number of people patiently waiting along Broad Street and it certainly didn't affect the number of food vendors selling crap to children before 11:00, but it did crowd things a bit with so many umbrellas and canopies set up.
I never saw the pathetic Rudolph balloon that wore a Bandaid over its leak the past few years but I did see what looked like a several new balloons, although I wasn't much impressed with the fruitcake or Strawberry Shortcake versions.
When the handlers of the Tweety balloon tried to lower it to go under the traffic lights at Allen Street, they scraped the balloon on the ground for so long that a man behind me warned, "Step back! They're gonna pop that thing!" Instead, I just kept going.
My favorites were the Black Gum Saddle Club riding their steeds down the street and the Wells Fargo carriage looking just like the little metal banks they used to give away. The two Harlem Globetrotters I saw were working the kids on the sidelines magnificently, thrilling them with attention. That was impressive to see.
And, sure I can appreciate a good marching band or ten, although baton twirlers in pink Santa hats don't do anything for me.
When a school's corps of cadets went by, an older began yelling at them to step it up and look sharper like his corps used to do. "Get to it!" he instructed.
But what galled me about the parade was the number of people participating in it with no regard for their role. If you're going to be on a float, you should be waving, not texting.
Just as bad, if not worse, were the people marching in the parade on their phones. I'm sorry, children are sitting on cold curbs in the rain to see a parade - maybe their first or maybe a very big deal to them - so you are like a character in a play or movie to them.
And you don't break character by being on your phone.
No, you should be totally in the moment of the parade or not in it at all. Can't we at least leave the phone alone long enough to give children a Christmas parade memory that doesn't involve watching people look at their screens?
A parade should be about the here and now. Look at me, sounding like the Grinch of Christmas Past.
Meanwhile, I'll go back to obsessing about the death of artful conversation...