Speak Up Against Cellphone Nonsense

I had the draft written when I took a break. Little did I know I would witness laboratory proof of cellphone nonsense on my jaunt. The day after graduation and the popular local shoe shop drew a crowd. As I sat and waited my turn, I watched quite a show. Five knowledgeable employees hustled to give undivided personal attention, shoe boxes nearly covered the entire floor, and the parade of people kept coming. Kneeling shoe experts waited as customers texted and talked on their phones, one shoe on, one off, halting the flow. “I can’t stand this auto-correct!” one customer fumed at the exhausted staff member, clutching the offending device.

Then, the star of the show walked in, phone in hand. He went directly to the checkout counter, introduced himself, and asked to talk with the person in charge about buying ads in his publication. High-stepping over shoe boxes everywhere and through the path of customers trying out potential shoes, he didn’t see. The long-time store owner, assisting the person sitting next to me, shook his head and asked the employee at the counter to send him on his way. Maybe because I was nearby, and surely because I didn’t have a phone, he grabbed my foot: “What can you expect when the primary interaction in their lives is with a phone? They don’t see the world. After I hire college students, it usually takes six months for awareness of other people to spark, and the light bulb goes on. As a coach (track), I wish I’d had time to talk to him.”

Oh, what a problem, the consequence of this pattern of habitual, mind-numbing cellular dependence.  Causing deadly harm behind the wheel, careless adoption of rude behavior any and everywhere, discomfort with face-to-face conversation, mental distraction and lack of focus—the damage of cellphone nonsense continues to stun me. What I find at times more surprising, however, is the unwillingness of so many recipients of the rudeness to speak up. It’s not okay that your coffee date interrupts your conversation at every “ping.” By opting for for ongoing phone use, your passenger demonstrates what matters more. When your companion at the concert, picnic, or ballgame prefers phone time to your time, just say something. Parents of any age can ask, politely, children of any age to put the phone away, please. Children of any age can ask, politely, adults of any age for time out without phones. Excuse yourself, courteously, from the book club whose members choose texting while others speak.  Express  your discomfort, indeed embarrassment at the answered phone in the middle of dinner table conversation—after the party rather than during it, but say something. Speak straight up and insist that the texting driver stop either the car or texting immediately.

Of course, there are often good reasons to keep a phone on while with others or in public, and a quick explanation conveys awareness and respect.We all know the advantages of the phone—providing directions, making and receiving timely phone calls, ending worry with a quick update, sending a text to clarify, receiving confirmation via email, seeking a little or lot of help, etc. Why don’t we better understand the disadvantages of non-stop devotion? Perhaps it’s this addiction’s hold on us that’s at the root of the culture of “busyness.”

Before you unplug, meet a guy who thought he was taking a girl to the movies. But she took her phone. Here’s what happened! http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39966675

A cellphone does not have a mind of its own.