Opposable Phones

You’re walking along, enjoying a beautiful 80 degree April day when BAM! a complete stranger runs into you. Why? They’ve had their head down engrossed in the contents of their cell phone.

You’re in line at the Loop pondering between a Loop and Swiss burger or grilled chicken sandwich when BAM! you’re inundated with the details of a stranger’s conversation. Why? They’re talking far too loudly on their cell phone about far too personal information.

You’re sitting at dinner with your friends at Sushi Love when BAM! you have to repeat a question to your friend. Why? They’re too busy looking at their plastic phone to pay any attention to the humans around them.

I know I’m not the only one to have found myself in similar situations to those above. Perhaps, I’ve even been that unknowing stranger perpetrator. The fact, is our phones are like an additional limb. We’re constantly attached to them and without them we feel lost.

This post, however, is not to dwell on our scary dependence on cellular phones. Instead, it is to offer some tips on how to manage that dependence in respectful ways.

  • There is a Time and Place for Everything

  • The Golden Rule

  • Remember a Time without Cell Phones

I’m not so sure I agree with MG Siegler that using your phone in social situations makes them more social. I’m more inclined to think that we were communicating and socializing just fine before cell phones took over. I’m certainly not advocating disregarding an obviously critical technology but if we don’t draw the line at the dinner table where do we draw it? In classrooms? Funerals? Bathrooms? Once upon at time, we didn’t have cell phones. We weren’t connected with each other and the rest of the world at large 24/7. And while we are connected now, we should be mindful of our habits. Nobody wants to be run into, ignored, or forced to listen to somebody else’s conversation. If a practice annoys you when others do it, make sure to abstain from that behavior yourself. If all else fails, you can always power down for awhile.

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One Comment to “Opposable Phones”

  1. Good post, Britt! And slightly prescient, too, since there’s a piece By David Carr in the NY Times today (4/14) on smart phone etiquette. See http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/fashion/17TEXT.html?_r=1&ref=technology. Carr talks about Siegler on phone use in social situations, too.

    Joe Harris

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