Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Feature: Smart Phones and Dumb Interactions

The other day, my husband accused me of being on Facebook all the time. While that's not exactly accurate, he does have a valid point. In the evening hours and in the car when he's driving, I'm on Facebook a lot. Way too much, some might say. In fact, a lot of our conversations in the car begin with "Listen to this...." followed by something I've read on social media.

I don't have any trouble putting my phone away when I make up my mind to do so, but it does have a way of creeping out of my purse and into my hand when I'm between tasks. Honestly, if I were childless, it would be out a lot less often, but still, I can't completely blame my daughter for my bad habits. Back when I had a flip phone, I used it only for phone calls.
And therein lies the problem. Back in the days of flip phones, I might have left my phone on the table during a meal with a friend if I wanted to make sure not to miss a call. And, since a call would have been the only thing to interrupt us, I wouldn't have been terribly distracted by the mere presence of the device. Now that I might miss a text, an email or the latest "news" on Facebook or Twitter, I'm quick to fill "down time" with a quick glance at my phone. Sadly, "down time" can consist of less than a minute between tasks.

But is leaving the phone (silenced) on the table such a bad thing? According to an article in Scientific American, "the mere presence of a phone affects how you relate to others." Yikes. I'm good at silencing my phone, and I rarely use notifications (definitely not for Facebook), but I must admit, I've grown increasingly careless about putting my phone away entirely.

Even if it is a cool trend, I certainly don't want to go back to using a one-purpose flip phone -- especially as a parent of a teenager whose first choice of communication is texting. I do, however, want to preserve manners and respect, so perhaps it's time to live by another old saw: out of sight, out of mind.

Challenging indeed.

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