Mobile Etiquette, PART ONE
It’s become so common that most of us are used to it by now. But there was a time not long ago when it would not have been okay to answer a call or check/send a text while talking/listening to someone else. I have had more conversations interrupted by someone taking a glance at their cell phone than I can remember (and I’ve certainly been guilty of doing that to others). This practice has, in fact, become normal, expected. I believe this is not okay.
In response to this growing trend, I have created a list of ways we can use our mobile technology better, allowing us to be more present to the people and events right in front of us. My goal is for these practices so be simple and easy to integrate into our hyperconnected lives. By incorporating them, I believe we can show each other greater respect and reflect to one another greater dignity.
Numbers 10-6 today. Numbers 5-1 tomorrow.
10. It’s okay to use voicemail. If you receive a call while talking with someone else in person, let your phone get the message. You can check it after your conversation is over. I know, it sounds silly. But many of us have forgotten this handy feature and allow ourselves to be dominated by “the tyrrany of the urgent.” For some reason, that incoming call can feel more important than the person you’re talking/listening to. It’s not. Unless your wife is about to have a baby or your daughter is awaiting that heart transplant, wait for the voicemail.
9. If you’re meeting someone for an appointment (e.g., lunch), turn off your phone during the appointment. If you’re expecting an important call that you just have to take (and there are exceptions), let the person you’re meeting with know ahead of time. When the call comes, excuse yourself politely from the conversation and step outside or at least to a corner where you won’t disturb everyone around you. Don’t be “that guy” yacking away on his Bluetooth in the middle of the restaurant as though they were the most important person in the universe. No one likes that guy.
8. One of the biggest lies generated by our hyperconnectivity is the idea that we have to be constantly alert for the next call, the next text, the next email. And when we get it, we should respond as quickly as possible. Don’t buy into this lie. Refuse to give in to the tyranny of the urgent. Refuse to live in knee-jerk fashion to every new piece of information that comes your way. Combat the tyranny of the urgent with the power of intentionality. Lasers are powerful because they are immensely focused beams of light. Your power lies in being immensely focused, as well.
7. Be proactive, not reactive, with your mobile technology. I got an encouraging text from a friend on Christmas Eve. It was less than 50 characters long, but it let me know he was thinking of me. I was surprised by how good that felt. After all, it’s only a silly little text, right? But interacting in real time around real events is one of the great gifts of hyperconnectivity. We can take the initiative and send a quick word of encouragement. We can let someone know we are thinking of/praying for them (we should do this only if we’re actually praying for them, btw). A quick call, a quick video message, a quick shared picture. It’s amazing what a small gesture can do when it is thoughtful.
6. Go offline for a few minutes everyday and come back to yourself. During the course of your day, take 10 minutes and turn your cell phone off. Close your laptop. Now breathe in and out deeply 5-6 times. Be quiet and still. Re-member (literally, “gather up the pieces of”) who you are and what matters most. Gratitude is a good tool for this. Recount three things you’re thankful for so far that day, no matter how crazy it’s been. Take a quick scan of your body. Is your heart racing? Do you feel tired or sore? Get back in touch with your body, mind, and heart for a few moments. Then make the intention to take the attitude of those quiet, re-humanizing 10 minutes with you when the phone goes back on and the laptop is open once more.
Good luck and stay tuned for Numbers 5-1 tomorrow!
(Photo credits: Girl on phone – Yellow Dog Productions; That Guy – Patrice O’Brien; Laptop on Hood – Ligia Botero)