A reader writes:
Yay! Someone has said/written it: text-obsession while in the midst of social interaction is wildly rude! I've had a couple of friends and roommates who've snapped at me when I've asked them to stop texting while (1) driving, and (2) playing a game of chess. Granted, I am older than they are, and I about collapsed with laughter when one of them tried to justify his "need" to text by referencing text addiction, but I've been wondering how long it would be before someone posted on this matter. Thanks!
Hear-hear. It bugs the crap out of me to speak to someone who seems to be so involved in somebody ELSE that they cannot put the blackberry away. I've turned away from a conversation mid-sentence only to be called back as I nearly round the corner. "It took that long for you to notice I wasn't speaking, jackass" is my usual comeback.
I work and socialize with mostly people in their 20s and, of course, the Blackberry/iPhone problem is reasonably pervasive among them. But many of them have learned to not use their phone when I'm talking with them. And it happened simply enough. All I did was stop talking as soon as they started looking at their phone. After a few seconds they'd realize what had happened and look at me again. And if they were typing on their phones I would just ask, "Are you transcribing this?"
Problem solved. Mostly.
In the nature of all backlashes, I think the backlash against checking one's smart phone is going too far. We have to distinguish between staring at a small screen and glancing. I am aware that both can be rude, but the latter is a necessity for me in two circumstances. Firstly, if my phone rings, I need to check to see who it is, as I have two young children in school, and the possibility of an emergency is very real (and has occurred, in fact). Secondly, if I have a schedule to keep, I need to periodically check the time if we're having a long conversation, as I no longer wear a watch. I try to keep this to a minimum, but it is unavoidable. Please bear these realities in mind.
You get a pass to check the time or take a call from a child or spouse. And that's it. Last night, however, Aaron caught me in a moment of rank hypocrisy. A friend was over and I was eating some clam chowder for dinner and he was making pizza and Aaron was watching Judge Judy. As we all gathered to eat, I was hooked on one level of Angry Birds on my iPad – the Easter version! – and kept going as they started a conversation. My defense? The TV was on. We live in a loft. No one was directly talking to me.
But I felt busted nonetheless.
(Photo: In this handout provide by the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama rests his head on his chair while Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel talks on cell phone in the Oval Office of the White House on February 11, 2009 in Washington, DC. By Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images)