The Smart Phone: The New Holy Grail?

You know, there was a time not that long ago, when saying “hi” to someone you met in say, the elevator or the laundry room, was the normal, polite thing to do.  At least that’s how I was raised,  to acknowledge people, offer a greeting and a smile.  Today, however, in order to say hello to someone, it means having to get someone’s attention away from their phone.  I don’t know what it is with people and their phones and their need to be on it all the time, but it’s rampant, like an epidemic.

Quite often, I will step onto the elevator in my building and see someone already in there completely engrossed in their text or email (or for all I know, it’s probably Word Mole or Fruit Ninja!), and they don’t even look up to see who has just walked into this tiny, enclosed space with them.  I could have a gun or a knife and they would have no idea because they don’t so much as take a glance at me.  And now they’re trapped in there with me.  I mean, I’m not someone with a gun or a knife but still, I could be, and they wouldn’t know until it’s too late.  It’s crazy.

What’s crazier still is when I do say hi to them they look up at me startled and barely utter a word; I might get a slight grunt, or if I’m lucky a timid hello, before they bow their heads in prayer to the holy BlackBerry/iPhone.  It’s as though any and all social skills that they likely acquired growing up have been lost.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against cells phones or smart phones; in fact, I have one myself and use it quite often to check emails, send/reply to texts, etc.  It’s the people who use them incessantly with zero regard for how they are behaving and treating others around them who cause me concern.  Myself, I rarely if ever use it when I’m in a group of people, such as the example above, and I never, I repeat never, make or take a call unless I’ve stepped outside and away from people.  That is just plain rude and ignorant.  No one wants to hear my conversation and frankly, I’d rather not share my conversation with a bunch of strangers.  And let’s be honest here, who calls anyone anymore, it’s all about emailing and texting.  Even my Dad, who we taught how to text, does it quite often and has become a master texter.  He can reply to a text in record time and he has a flip phone with three letters per key – I have to admit, I’m pretty impressed with his skills!  (A quick note about my Dad and phones: once he’s said what he’s needed/wanted to say, he’s done.  You can send text after text to try to get a reply out of him, which I’ve done, but nothing – he’s done.  I asked him about this and he told me he doesn’t reply because he turns his phone off when he’s finished.  The abruptness of his “last text” is similar to how he gets off the phone.  You can be in the middle of a conversation, but if he gets the urge to get off the phone, he’s gone.  He’s not rude about it he’s just, as I said, abrupt.  It cracks me up every time!)

Another scenario that shocks me every time I see it is the phone orgy.  I know you know what I’m talking about since you can’t go out anymore without seeing it.  A group of people seemingly out together for some type of social activity, say, shopping or having dinner at a restaurant, and every single person in the group is on a phone.  Whaaaat????  I see it all the time and I always point it out to whoever I’m with because it irks me that much.  I mean, why did they bother to go out together in the first place?  They clearly don’t enjoy each other’s company since they’ve all whipped out their phones and are doing who knows what or talking to who knows who.   Please, pretty please, if you’re one of these people, stop (although, if you’re reading this blog I would find it hard to believe that you would be one of these people!).

A few years ago, I was invited to a dinner party at a pretty nice restaurant.  During the dinner, I noticed the host of this shindig on her phone; I didn’t think much of it at first because even then, it was the norm for people to pull out their phones anywhere (although since she was the host, it was definitely a bit tacky).  After a while (since  she was sitting right beside me, I could hear what she was saying, something about the seating), it occurred to me that the person she was speaking to was SITTING AT THE SAME TABLE AS US!  I glanced around and sure enough, there was the other girl sitting on the other side of our table about two people down from me talking on her phone to the host.  I’m not kidding or exaggerating, this is a true story!  And in case you’re wondering, yes, it was a sign of how the evening transpired.  Awkward has been the only word that has ever come to mind when describing that night.

My one last gripe (I promise!) is when I’m talking with someone and they are constantly checking their phones.  I realize I might not be the most interesting person but come on, show a little respect and pay attention to our conversation.  I have to admit that I have done this very thing a few times in the past, but I always wound up feeling like such a jerk that I don’t do it anymore.  It’s slightly disconcerting to see someone you’re having an intense conversation with checking their phone every minute or two.  Just show a bit of respect and some manners and leave the phone alone.  Trust me, the text or email will still be there when we’re done talking and so will the person who sent it; if they’re like you, they’ll be sitting on pins and needles waiting for a reply.  And the plus side, because you don’t reply right away, it’ll make you seem so very busy and important.  Hmm, how’s that for a bonus?!

So, just to recap, when someone comes into a room and you happen to be on your cell, look up, say hi, maybe even offer up a smile; if you’re having a conversation with a friend, keep your hands off your phone, and if you’re out for dinner with friends, put your phones away and enjoy the company of the people you’re with (or just stay home and call them instead!).  Remember, manners go a long way with a lot people, let’s bring them back!!

~Trisha~

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