The family joke was me training to have a cell phone by carrying a block of wood. I now have a “smart” phone prompting a friend to reach out and touch me with, “Welcome to the dark side …” I thought he was being clever, but soon realized that the quip is truth.
I had willingly, but unknowingly, entered the web of connectedness. I am mobile, I am instantly available, and I am in touch with my inner and outer clouds. If René Descartes lived today, he would say, “Iphono Ergo Sum” (“I phone, therefore I am).
I can reach anybody any time and the reverse is true. In fact, that transportability of connectedness creates the false impression that we have to be connected all the time. Maybe, it’s already time to rethink this.
There is enough dependency on our cell phones now to invert our social priorities and divert our attention from face-to-face contact. For example, we check the text screen even as we are meeting real people. The phone, text, or e-mail comes first. We act in ways that are sometimes rude, thoughtless, and even stupid. Yet these behaviors are no longer recognized as bad, because people defer to the importance of being connected all the time.
Perhaps we need a refresher on the appropriate times to use these wonderful tools. Here are some examples:
– Turn the phone off when driving, even for short distances or when doing errands. Residential streets where children play need your attention more than a caller.
– On long trips, only make calls at rest stops or when fueling.
– Don’t text while having a face-to-face conversation with someone.
– Avoid interrupting a conversation to answer a cell phone call.
– Turn your cell phone off in movie theaters concerts, weddings, funerals, meetings, etc.
– If you must take a call in public, talk quietly. Nobody else is interested in your conversation.
– Don’t keep talking on the phone in checkout lines or elevators.
– Value the time you have with your young children; when you are with them, be with them, not on the phone.
– Mandate cell-free hours for teenagers. If they violate the rule, make them share the message with everybody.
– In a similar manner, turn the phone off on weekends or set aside hours when you will not take calls. If you think you will be unable to do that, then you need to take a phone-free vacation.
– Remember that texting and e-mail are forever. If you wouldn’t show it to everybody as a memo, then don’t send it as a text or e-mail.
– Like it or not, a person’s resumé now includes all tweets and Facebook postings.
– Learn to practice silence.
– Being active in a social network is not the same as being able to interact socially. Help your kids learn to look adults in the eye when they speak to them.