Be here now: New Year’s wish for digital etiquette

January 3, 2014

be+here+now+2Ram Dass advised Be here now and that’s still good advice in today’s digital world. Maybe even better advice today, when there are so many opportunities to be somewhere else instead of in the moment.

So here’s my new year’s wish: that the people I spend time with attend to their digital etiquette.

When we are together, please  be in my company. Let’s talk. Let’s have dialogue. Please– don’t text, unless it’s an important message to a babysitter, pet sitter or doctor. It’s bad manners.  I’d appreciate it if you didn’t post to your social media sites or respond to emails while we are spending time together. And please don’t surf the net, unless we’re trying to find road directions. Let’s converse or enjoy the beautiful day we’re having.

If we’re together, please don’t answer your cell phone unless you think it is an emergency. This is not the time to talk to your sister-in-law about what she’s getting your brother for his birthday–she can always leave a message and you can call back when you are alone. This is even truer when we are in the car together, an intimate setting in which I can’t even divert myself with the radio while you have a long conversation. It’s just not courteous.

If you must take a call, handle your business quickly, say that you are in the middle of something and say goodbye. Because you ARE in the middle of something.

4642335428_674b750b42_zIn fact: turn your phone off while we are together. There is nothing more aggravating than being at dinner with someone who is always checking their smartphone. Bad manners. I’m always tempted to get up from the table and leave, and perhaps one day, I will. I already will tell people to put their phone away and to “be in the moment.”  If I do get up, please don’t be offended. We are spending time together because I enjoy it and I am simply not going to sit there with my thumb up my rear while you do something else.

Perhaps you just MUST take a photo of your dinner plate to post on social media. If you must, take the picture and post later. I am not a big fan of “checking in” when in someone else’s company. Enjoy the company, don’t look for something else to do. Multi-tasking is for work, not play.

If we’re on the phone, please do not put me on hold while you take a second call. Unless you think the second call could be an emergency. Let’s complete our conversation so you can check your voicemail and call the other person back. It is impolite to put someone on hold to take another call.  If you do that, expect that I will tell you to call me back when you are done. Or I might just hang up while I’m waiting on hold.

I once went to a movie party where two people actually did work while others were enjoying a movie on TV. The two workers dominated the room with their discussions over their laptops.  It was a PARTY, for goodness sake. Go in the other room and work if you must, and let the rest of the group enjoy what you invited them over to do.

It’s surprising to me how many people simply do not recognize how ill-mannered this kind of behavior is. I’m impatient with it.

So, my new year’s resolution is really  more of a wish: I wish people would pay attention to their manners as they relate to digital devices and act accordingly. And my personal resolution is to no longer tolerate this, so be forewarned. I won’t get angry, I’ll just move on to something I’d like to do better than watch you fiddle with your phone or have a phone conversation.

Manners in general are in short supply in our increasingly self-centered society. I think it’s time to bring them back.

And if I happen to forget my own manners while in your company, do not hesitate to call me on it!

Happy new year! And what’s your new year wish? What would you like to be different this year?

25 comments on “Be here now: New Year’s wish for digital etiquette
  1. Pamela Mason says:

    Timely for me! Yesterday I was showering at the gym after swimming, and in comes a young woman on the phone, her conversation bouncing off the walls and competing with the others who came in after their classes. It was annoying that she wanted us to restrain our talk to accommodate she-who-couldn’t-let-go-of-the-phone.

    • admin says:

      I despair of this changing, but it does show how self-centered we’ve become–how we act like we live in a digital bubble.

  2. Karen @ Baking In A Tornado says:

    This hits home for me as my son, a freshman in college is only here for a limited amount of time. When we’re having a conversation, I want to feel as though we’re only engaged with each other. I need to put my cell aside and he needs to do the same. He’ll be gone again all too soon.

  3. Amen to this! Especially this: “Multi-tasking is for work, not play.”

    Now to just get all in my IRL circle to read this. 😀

  4. Janie Emaus says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more! Happy New Year. May we spend this year looking up at each other.

  5. Liane Carter says:

    Spot on, and amen.

  6. Point well taken and well put!

  7. There are so many great thoughts here. I teach high school…kids today are trained to always be somewhere else. Because of this…they are missing all that is happening around them…including education. Teachers today have to demand attention for students trained to give little attention to anything. It drives me nuts to see people texting while eating with someone else!! I just told a bride to be a few minutes ago…slow down and enjoy the process…take time to look people in the eye…relish the moments before your start you new life…some of these people may not pass your way again very soon. Good words to start a new year, Carol.

  8. Susan Walker says:

    I had lunch today with one of my karate students and her mom. Turns out mom’s sister/nephew were there also and mom gets up in the middle of our conversation/lunch to go talk to her sister and is gone for 10 minutes. Then she went to talk to the owner of the restaurant who is a friend of hers for another 10 minutes. Fortunately, my karate student (15) and I had a lot to talk about.

  9. donna says:

    You speak OOODLES of truth here. I am guilty. Especially when we watch a movie/tv at home. I am constantly turning to my phone to find out WHO that extra actor is or other tidbits of useless information…to which I seem to be addicted! One of my New Years commitments was to move the phone charger from the table next to the couch into the office. NOW I set the phone to charge and I am soooo trying to keep it there until the next day!
    GREAT post my friend…great post.

    • admin says:

      Well, it’s one thing to do it when we’re alone and another when we are in another’s company. Buty your point is a good one, too!

  10. Judy says:

    A good read at brunch on my iPhone5S!

  11. Judy says:

    I promise to be in airplane mode for our brunch.

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