Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Technology is turning us all into a bunch of f*@#ing jerks.

     Last night, I spilled water all over all over a customer's iPhone.  It was parked where people always park their phone- right next to their water glass. When I was filling the glass up, a fair amount leaped from it and covered his beloved device.
   He was horrified.  You'd think he was trying to resuscitate his soul mate.  He kept looking at me with these accusatory eyes.  What he wanted me to do-  I'm not sure.  But I'll tell you what I did do.
     Absolutely nothing.
     If only Siri could move on her own.  Personally, I find her bitchy and annoying, but she's nothing if not smart.  I'm sure her sense of self preservation would object to this scenario.  Ask her, right now, Siri, is it safe to place you right next to a water source?  What does she say?

 
     The placement of the phone on the table is really annoying, but it is just a symptom of some larger issues that I would like to address.
     First, when did we all become so important that we need to be reachable at all times?
     Second, when did it become socially acceptable to act like every public place that happens to have tables and chairs is our personal office space?  And,
     Lastly, why is the pervasive use of cell phones making us abandon all of our social grace?

     Basically, why is technology turning us all into a bunch of f@#king jerks?

    First things first.  When did we all become so important that we needed to be reachable at all times?  The answer is, we didn't.  We're not.  We probably never will be.  I mean, I'm sure there are some of us out there who are surgeons- but the majority of us are not.  Having a phone in eye/ear shot at all times is a totally ridiculous behavior.  And one that I am guilty of, too.
     Ever since I had Lucien, I find myself having the same, unnecessary attachment to my phone.  Of course, I blame it on having a child.  To be fair, I blame everything on having a child- it's a luxury that comes with parenting.  But, whatever, that is a whole other topic.  Back to the phone, that I obviously need to have on me, because I am a parent now, right?  What if something happens?  I need to be reachable, don't I? Um, no, not really.  Somehow our generation survived without having a Batline to our parents.  And somehow I think my child would survive, too.  I mean, I'm great and all, but in a real emergency- I'm pretty sure I'd rather you call 911.  Actually, definitely.  I am definitely sure I'd rather you call 911.
     My point is, whatever excuse we think we have for having our phones accessible at all times- is false.  It is debunked by the mere fact that our species is here, and it survived and thrived before  phones existed and definitely before they became small enough to take with us wherever we went.

    Second, when did it become socially acceptable to act like every public place that happens to have tables and chairs is our personal office space?
    I've seen people get visibly annoyed when there is not an outlet next to their table at a coffee shop.  Um, it's a coffee shop- not a recharging station.  This is another form of entitled behavior that is born of advanced technology.  I have never seen a writer that was using a notebook and a pen get mad at a waitress because he ran out of paper.  And he definitely wouldn't expect a restaurant/coffee shop/whatever to stock extra notebooks just in case -in a writing frenzy- he came to his last page.
     It's no one's responsibility to make sure that your laptop is charged, Okay?  It's great that compact computer technology has taken many of us out of the confines of a cubicle,  but we all must remember that Starbucks isn't, actually, our office.

    Lastly, the most disturbing question of all.  Why is the pervasive use of cell phones making us abandon all of our social grace?

It's rude to answer your phone during lunch.
It's rude to ignore a waiter when he comes to your table-or worse, attempt to mime your order- because you are on your phone.
It's rude to have an eye on your phone, when you are in the middle of a dinner date.
It's rude to keep your ringer on, when you are not at home.
It's rude to complete a transaction -while on your phone- at the grocery store, the pizza shop, the hot dog stand, etc. 
It is rude not to give someone your undivided attention when you are interacting with them- no matter how unimportant you think they may be.

Can we all agree about these points, or am I totally off base?  I think we all need to work on being less rude, when it comes to the use of our hand-held gadgets.  I'm calling them gadgets now, because I really, really, really believe that they aren't totally necessary.  I believe that we believe they are necessary- but come on, they just aren't.   I could find my way to the Best Buy on 34th Street without google maps.  I could.  Yes, it would be harder, but I could do it.  I could successfully meet my friends for dinner, without checking in- in 10 minute increments- every step of the way.  And so could you.


Back to the guy whose phone I drowned, who got me thinking about this whole issue.  I'm sorry, Okay?  But just put her away for a few minutes, and you'll never have to worry about me endangering your soul mate again- I promise.  And I think Siri agrees.


21 comments:

  1. Awesome and so true.. and I'm so guilty.. and I also blame it on being a parent and feeling the need to know EVERYTHING at all times. It's insanity... insanity. I tell the teenagers I work with, homeless teenagers who ALL have cell phones, that I remember when you had to pay for internet by the minute and they instantly add 20 years to however old they thought I was... suggesting they find a payphone makes them think I belong in the psych ward! Basically cell phones really are a luxury we believe is a necessity, to make us feel uber important all the time. Again: I'm guilty.

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  2. I really liked this post, another phone faux pas is to use such device while trying to drive. People get so into their conversations they slow down, or start driving over the lines. If I was on the phone while driving I would surely get a ticket. Phones can be useful if you get stuck in your car, but talking as you drive or maybe using the bathroom is totally rude.
    It is so convenient to have these, but we all got along without them before, and I could go without them again!

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    1. Oh god- not just a faux pax- illegal and dangerous! I hate that!

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    2. Or ram you in the backend like some bimbo almost did me today! Texting and being on the cell is worse than drunk driving! Trust me, I work for a police department and the statistics would scare the crud out of you! It's no longer a funny little embarrassment. It's something people should be ASHAMED of.

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  3. I saw a waitress at willow St. dump an entire glass on an iPad that a 2 yr old was watching, so his parents could enjoy their dinner in peace and quiet. I applauded. Serves the a-holes right that babysit their kids in social settings with these gadgets, rather than teach their children acceptable restaurant behavior. Living in the silicon valley, I seriously fear my daughters will date social retards because no one bothers to speak directly anymore.

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    1. I wish I could have seen how the Willow Glen parents reacted to that!

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  4. Such a great post! It reminds me of an article I read about "FOMO" or "Fear of Missing Out" - we're all so "connected" that people don't know how to be alone anymore. And the fact that most of society has accepted the increased role technology plays in our day to day lives, just distracts from what all these new little social "norms" - answering your phone while out to eat, taking offense at a public place's lack of technological accommodations, etc. - are, and that's RUDE.

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    1. Isn't that ironic? Fear of missing out- yet because of it we totally miss out on the present moment, because we are always distracted. We have to stop the insanity!!

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  5. So. True. I realized last week that I was putting my phone next to the water glass if I was waiting for a call and thought, "You know, I really shouldn't do that..." but mostly because I'm pretty sure *I* would spill something on it! I also try to make a point to not be on my phone around other people or to apologize profusely if I'm unable to get off the phone (with, say, my mother in law) when in line at the grocery store.

    I am always appalled when someone takes a call and then doesn't excuse themselves to finish said call! I was writing with a friend at a coffee shop and a man was having the loudest conversation EVER at the next table. I'm pretty sure that coffee shops are where people historically go to relax and maybe do a little writing, so we were peeved he spent thirty minutes ignoring the pleas of his fellow customers to shut. up.

    I'm going to stop now... long story short-- WORD.

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    1. People can be truly oblivious. It's amazing.

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  6. Totally, totally true. My husband gets super ticked when I don't answer my cell phone because it is in my purse (and I am in a meeting or tending to the kids). I do not keep anything strapped to my head.

    People seriously need to unplug and remember how to communicate in person.

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  7. I was watching this video a few days ago that someone had linked to facebook, it was a teenage boy coming out to his mother. The whole time he was talking to her, he was texting and fiddling with his phone! I couldn't believe it, this is one of the most important moments in your life, and you can't leave your phone alone for eight minutes? I think I must be one of the few people left in North America who is under thirty, and doesn't have a cell phone.

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  8. I agree with this post, but apparently not enough to leave my phone at home. I grew up with the internet, and it seems like a huge disadvantage to not have it at all times. I feel we need to strike a balance. It is OK to take your phone out and find directions or settle a debate about a fact that can be looked up in a few seconds. It is not OK to keep checking your phone while you are hanging out with your friends, or on a date.

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  9. It's so true, and I'm afraid (and I'm guilty too) that this generation will be raised entirely with internet access, therefore not realizing that you DON'T need it all the time. Scary...what would we do if all the cell towers and wifi connections went out for 3 weeks?! :)

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  10. While I do put my phone on the table, it's off to the side, out of the way. I just don't like the annoyance of it my pocket. I don't play with it or allow my kids to play games with it at the table. Nor do I rarely get any phone calls, I only use about 20 minutes a month. It's more out of convenience for me.

    But the whole talking on the phone while ordering annoys the crap out of my wife and I as well. Let alone rude, it's disrespectful to those trying to do their job. To me, it makes me think that person on the phone is more important than anyone else, and I hate people like that. Nobody has respect for anyone anymore.

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    1. Totally. And to be fair- I didn't even consider the fact that it would be annoying to have it in a pocket, because I am a woman- and carry a purse. It just became less annoying to see men do that- thanks!

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  11. so true! i rarely take my phone out when in public, i think its so rude to be on your phone when youre out in the world doing things! how is my daughter going to learn how to interact and be social with others if im constantly on my cell phone and not showing her?!? thats right, she wont...i dont even have a smart phone anymore, just a basic one for calls and texts. the only thing i miss about my smartphone is the camera, but then again i have a really nice digital camera so no need for a really nice camera on the phone too! and i hate when im out with friends and they spend 90% of their time on their phone texting with me sitting right in front of them! so rude...

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