October 20, 2014

Mobile phones and etiquette

A blogging friend Bob J Rants regularly on a number of topics.  I haven't used my blog in that way but I thought I'd borrow his motif for a post.  

Today on the radio, I was listening to the news during my commute and I heard a story about the Top 10 annoying mobile phone habits.  Yes, they were all annoying to varying degrees - texting in a movie theater, taking pictures of your food at a restaurant (nobody cares about your public diarizing of your lunch) and of course using speakerphones in inappropriate locations.  All bad.

But the one that bothers me the most is people getting distracted by text conversations while conversing with live people.  I was guilty of that myself years ago (with blackberry emails, not texts) but I've stopped.  It's rude to not be present in a conversation you are in the middle of having.

It's dismissive of the person you are talking with in live, real time.

Now I may be shouting into a hurricane here.  I know the future involves more electronic communication, not less.  But to me it impersonalizes interpersonal relationships, despite what the advertising tells you.

I'm not suggesting there aren't plenty of useful functionalities associated with text messaging or other electronic communications like SnapChat.  But we are re-socializing the future of our society without thinking about what that means for society as a whole as well as the individuals affected by the change.

In the bigger picture, everything from drone warfare to internet dating sites de-personalizes things and continues to distance people from those they are interacting with. Absent feelings of empathy that come from direct interpersonal connection, emotional development will probably be stunted by comparison to today or decades pasts.  

Perhaps you think it's weird to read a conservative talking about emotion and inter-personal connectivity, but it really shouldn't be. It's probably more weird that I'm writing about this on a blog, rather than in a face to face conversation.

But that gets a little too far down the rabbit hole for me to justify or think about.  Like I said, technology has an important place in society.  I just don't think it should be the place.
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