Mobile Etiquette, PART TWO
Continuing in our mobile etiquette countdown, we arrive at part two, affectionately known as numbers five through one. If you missed numbers ten through six (and what a shame that would be), please scroll down the page to find yesterday’s entry (or simply click HERE).
5. Kids are smarter than you think. Even infants and toddlers. Therefore, if you are a parent who spends a great deal of time on his or her phone while in the presence of your offspring, said offspring are going to notice. And yes, even the toddler and infant are going to notice. In my former Palo Alto, CA, neighborhood, I was always surprised by how many parents I observed pushing their children in strollers while yacking away on their cell phones. Now I can’t blame them. At first glance, this looks like good multi-tasking. “I’m doing work. I’m with my kid. What’s the problem?” The problem is your child is watching everything you do to help make sense of its developing world. If you are constantly on your phone while with your child (or leaving your child to take a call), the child will assume there is an object that is at least as important as he or she (after all, it always gets picked up when it “cries.”) Be assured this child will carry that message into their teen years and adulthood and it will bite you in the tookus. The opportunity to take a stroll with your children is richer than you may think. See if at least once or twice a week you can do this sans phone and notice how much more attuned you are to your child’s exciting experience of their growing world. You may even find yourself feeling more childlike, too.
4. Don’t make phone calls immediately before bedtime or immediately after waking up. I broke my own rule this morning (there are always exceptions), but as a habit, it is good to honor your body’s natural rhythms and stay away from communication devices and info a half hour before bed and after waking. Why? Our bodies are finely-tuned instruments (yes, even yours), and finely-tuned instruments require thoughtful care. In our culture’s exercise craze we can be quick to assume we’ve all “got this.” We don’t. We may be building more muscle and losing more fat, but we are mostly unaware of what our body actually needs (hence America’s massive sleep debt and medical bills). You, however, being the brilliant sage that you are, can counteract some of this by simply unplugging for a short time after waking and a short time before bed. Quiet your mind and use gratitude once again to reflect on the day ahead or behind. Your body knows what it needs. Connect to it before connecting with others.
3. Don’t text while driving. We’ve all gotten pretty decent at this, and if we don’t text, we at least check incoming texts. None of this is good. The fact is, driving is a more complex task than we think. And when your already limited attention is further fractured by looking down and pressing the right keys, trouble is near. I say this as one who checks incoming texts while driving far too often (i.e., more than once). But the reality is, we are once again making some selfish decisions here, as in, this text is more important than the lives hurtling past me so I should answer it rather than pay attention to not running anyone over. Honor the people in the cars and on the sidewalks around you by giving your driving some undivided attention.
Be a part of reclaiming public spaces for the public (i.e., humans) by being respectful about where and how you take or make your calls.
2. It’s already been mentioned above, but when we are on our phones, we are not very aware of the people physically around us. It is a simple biological fact, but it is also just plain rude. We all know the experience of overhearing conversations because fellow citizens are yapping away in public spaces. Be a part of reclaiming public spaces for the public (i.e., humans) by being respectful about where and how you take or make your calls. Pay attention to volume (we all talk significantly louder on the phone than in person). Pay attention to personal distance (are you talking too near to someone and dishonoring their right to personal space, at least by the standards Western culture)? In other words, be mindful of the people around you with your communication habits at airports, grocery stores, malls, churches, on public transportation, at theme parks, etc.
1. Finally, apply the so-called Golden Rule to all your mobile habits. That means treat others the way you would want to be treated. We can all do our small but potent part in reclaiming our humanity and honoring each other’s by simply being mindful of how we’re using our mobile technology. We all have to use it, yes. That’s not a bad thing. But we can all get more skilled at how we use it, too. This list is an invitation to me and to you to become “more human” in the way we communicate – even on digital devices. By incorporating these simple practices, we are being good to ourselves and good to others (and good for others).