It’s been a crazy, busy week thus far. Far too much to go into and far more than anyone needs to hear, quite frankly. Amidst the sea of busyness, I have struggled to find today’s blog topic. I’ve had several ideas, but none formulated well enough to post. Then, I came upon What Is Phone Stacking?
I love the idea suggested by the author, Kyana Gordon, that we put down our cell phones and actually engage, uninterrupted by technology, with friends during dinner. Or, lose the game. Isn’t that how we should eat every meal with friends and family? Isn’t it the same courtesy you hope your spouse, children or friends would show you at the table? I suggest it’s how we should always converse with our spouses, our children, our friends, our co-workers or even the clerk checking out our groceries. We should fully engage. We should offer our complete attention not simply a “Hey, that’s great” to the person across the table, while reading the text that just chimed for attention.
I got my first cell phone back in 1993. It was a brick made by Motorola. My husband and I used to joke that it wasn’t just a phone, at two pounds, it was a weapon. I worked in telecommunications, was on the road a great deal, and a cell phone was a useful tool. However, at a $1 or more per minute, it was also used sparingly, but I always had it with me–just in case. After our daughter was born, it gave my husband and I great comfort while out on a date. We could check in with the babysitter from the comfort of our own table. Gone were the days of needing to track down a payphone to call home. Gone were the days of waiting until I reached the office to call a client. Gone were the days of uninterrupted conversations in the car, or the restaurant booth, or the movies…or even home.
In the age of cheap cell phones, unlimited minutes calling plans and unlimited texting, it seems gone, too, are the days of common courtesy. Cell phones are everywhere and are no longer seen as a luxury item. Ask any teen if their cell phone is a luxury or necessity and the answer is a resounding “Necessity! Duh!” You’re likely to get the same response from many, if not most, adults as well. And, truthfully, I’m likely to answer “necessity” as well. I like my phone, and I have been guilty of answering a call that wasn’t urgent or sending a text while talking with my husband or a friend. It’s a habit. It’s a reflex. But, habits can be broken and reflexes can be retrained. When my older daughter was in her early teens, she had a pair of friends that were given iPhones when they were first released. I remember my daughter expressing her feelings of frustration over her friends constant texting while in her company. She said it felt as though they were talking with her, but waiting for a “better offer” to come through in a text. I’m more than 30 years her senior and have felt the same way at times. Haven’t you found it rude when someone answers a non-urgent call or text while sharing a conversation with you? Her comments made me very aware of my own cell phone manners; manners that I admit aren’t always the best.
Now, I’m not suggesting that phones always be turned off, or stacked in the middle of a table at every meal, or a text never be glanced at while in the company of another, but I am suggesting our phones can be turned off far more often than we have fooled ourselves into believing they can. Some may not be old enough to remember the days before cell phones, but I can assure you, those of us alive during those days managed just fine without the calls, the texts, or the WiFi access to the internet. There were few things so urgent or pressing they couldn’t wait until we got to our homes, or offices, or found a payphone on the corner. Yes, I know payphones have gone the way of the dinosaurs, but I propose the same is still true today. That call or text can wait.
There really are very few things that can’t wait, but we make them urgent in our own minds. Perhaps, it’s the instant gratification we’ve become accustomed to in our society. I mean, really, must we answer a call in a public bathroom, too? While out to dinner with my husband recently, the girl in the stall next to me thought she must. Her girlfriend needed to know what she was wearing to a function they would be attending the following week. I certainly understand the urgency of that call, don’t you? Well, lucky for her she wasn’t at the table; I’m sure she would have been picking up the tab that night.
Do you turn off your cell phone while talking/dining/etc. with friends? What about with your family? Do you ask your children to turn off their phones? Perhaps, phone stacking should start at the family dinner table.