Ram 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.
In 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?