With the advent of every new technology designed for the masses, a new culture and set of norms begins to develop around that technology. What is acceptable behavior and use? While so many will suggest that the ire towards the prolific use of cell phone is more an unveiling of a generational divide, others will vehemently maintain its use has crossed the line of basic manners and earnest human interaction.
Who decides when and where it’s appropriate to use a cell phone. Is there a different set of rules for each generation? Is there a different set of rules for speaking vs. texting/surfing? The overarching question to ask is not if it’s appropriate, but what impact will it have on others around me? Will its use prevent engaging conversation and connecting with those around me or is the environment such that relaying a private conversation is imposing on those around you. Driving with the cell phone is an entirely different topic. Is it not simply rude behavior to use cell phone in a spa, check-out line or movie theatre? Doing so is sending a very clear message that the user has no respect or curtesy for those with whom they’re interacting. On another level, there is more to be missed by not engaging with others directly that the forehead down, cryptic messaging on cell phones so often displayed. Not only is a culture void of common courtesy emerging, but the ability to have meaningful face to face conversations is diminishing.
Fear of being disconnected and the potential to miss out on fleeting minutia has been identified by health professionals as an addiction. Healthy pursuits such as day dreaming and boredom have all but disappeared in our cell phone, constant communication culture. Unfortunately, parents all too often lead by example. The explosion of parents pushing strollers with cell phones on in lieu of engaging in the wonders of childhood is shameful.
Breaking habits is difficult. Leading by example is difficult. Being mindful and doing the right thing for yourself and those around is never wrong. New behavior takes time to develop. This is not a disparaging diatribe on the evils of cell phones. Cell phones have untold benefits in our ability to communicate rapidly and gain access to instant information. We just need to ask ourselves if they need to come with the cost on human interaction and basic civility.