RANT: I have to be honest: I’ve really come to HATE how cel phones (or “devices”as apparently they’re now called) have taken root in modern society. These days almost everyone – including eight-year old girls and Food Bank regulars – has some kind of phone strapped to their hip. I’m especially fed up how the dependancy some folks have on these “little screens” has turned them into a bunch of rude, unfocused clones who demonstrate little (if any) respect for those people actually standing in front of them. I’m not kidding; and it’s really frightening to me is how this lack of common courtesy or basic good manners being shown towards people is getting worse and worse, and hitting epidemic proportions.
What’s most scary is these chronic thumb-typers don’t even realize it; and they’re so busy staring, staring, staring at these 3″ x 4″ technological wonders all the time that they’ve bought into the two biggest lies they perpetuate, being:
- Lie # 1 – That folks HAVE TO BE “connected” and available to everyone they know 24/7 (They don’t)
- Lie # 2 – That texting and sending Facebook updates and messages is “connecting” and being “social” (It’s not – in fact, it’s extremely anti-social)
Let’s face it: We all know people who have over 700+ “Facebook Friends” that in real life rarely – if ever – socializes with more than one or two of these people because (a) they don’t really know the rest of them, and (b) even if they did, they’d probably wouldn’t call them up Saturday morning to say “Hey, let’s go shopping” or “Do you want to throw a Frisbee around?”. Unfortunately, this is a sad but true fact of this phenomenon called “social media”; that in terms of relationships, it is actually the most UN-social thing out there.
But what really makes me angry about these phone obsessions is this: While these people are constantly staring down and typing away, they are blatantly ignoring everything and everyone else going on around them, and it pisses me off HUGE! Honest to God, I’m fed up with people who can’t take their eyes of their iPhones, “Smart Phones” and “Androids”, all because they feel the need to text one another every three minutes with updates about nothing (LOL!); either that or to go on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook so they can (a) report on, or (b) get informed about such life-and-death situations such as what salad they’ve ordered for lunch, or to show off the pair of socks they are buying at Walmart… Seriously people, are you kidding me? Don’t you know that REAL LIFE is happening only 4″ above that tiny screen? How does any of this even make sense?
Don’t get me wrong – The benefits of being able to drop a quick text to say something like “Running late – be there in 2o minutes” or “Thanks for a lovely evening” are terrific; and via text, are quick, easy and convenient – so far, so good. The same goes with Facebook: I love the idea of sharing photos of important events, or forwarding quotes, videos and stories – this is all fun stuff, and to be honest, I also appreciate receiving these things from others. But in the grand scheme of things, that’s not what these technological conduits are being used for!
Rather that sending texts that actually mean something, it’s usually just streams of mindless gibberish going back and forth; which is fine if you are alone, but totally rude if you are actually in the presence of someone at the same time. Same with Facebook: I’ll enjoy it when I’m at home on my computer, reading and posting things I like; but never while I’m having lunch with friends, driving my car, standing in the checkout at the store, at the bus stop, while walking down the street or through the mall, out for lunch or coffee with friends, etc. – it’s just rude and inappropriate!
And there in lies the problem – many people these days don’t see this behaviour as rude, or inappropriate, but “normal” since they figure everyone else is doing it. And while they’re busy looking down and focusing on their phones, real life – the good stuff – is passing them by. And it IS passing them by; check it out this video and you’ll see:
So Why The Rant?
Why am I so pissed off about this? I’m simply tired of watching as folks sit quietly by and are totally blown off by other people who – because of their obsession with texting as a way of “communication” – show a total lack common courtesy and respect for those present. It seems every time I’m out to lunch or having a beer with a friend, somewhere around me/ us there are people ignoring their friends, yet having “conversations” with everyone else who ISN’T present – most noticeable are the “couples” who spend entire meals doing this… Sounds like a terrific “Date Night” to me – not!
Heck, even at the book signing last week, the asshole sitting next to me (in the front row!) was texting away as Chris Gillebeau was giving his presentation! As someone who lectures, I can tell you this is the rudest, most distracting way you can behave while someone else is speaking. They say public speaking is one of the greatest fears people have? Well no wonder, if this is how members of the audience behave when you’re up there giving it your all – it totally throws you off. Ironically, when this jerk finally put down his phone, he began asking questions that had already been addressed while he was busy typing away in his crotch. I know, right?
Let’s Get This Straight: Texting ISN’T Talking
I can’t state this enough – Facebook, texting, instant messaging, etc. – none of which barely existed even ten years ago, and yet we somehow still managed to communicate – are destroying people’s ability to have real conversations with real people. Whenever I see an invitation to join “Farm-Ville” all I think about is how much real life the inviter is missing out on, and how their time would be better spent over coffee or having lunch in person with a true friend. Whenever someone brags about their “myVEGAS slots” scores, I wonder if they have ever considered walking at the beach, or volunteering their time… who knows?
The times I’m out with my friends, I actually have a rule: If they constantly pull out their phone to “quickly text” a friend, then I head for the door so they can spend time with the person who DIDN’T bother showing up for them that day; fortunately I’ve only had do to this once, and they guy wasn’t really a friend, but more a “friend of a friend”. I left the table and found the bartender far more interesting, plus he served a greater purpose – he gave me beer.
To be honest, my small group of friends subscribe to the same philosophy as me – “Friends, not phones”. In fact, we had a great evening with friends this past weekend – dinner on Saturday – and no-one so much as looked at their phones when they “pinged” with a message – Heck, I even remember our hostess saying “It could wait”, which it did, and we all had a terrific night enjoying each other’s company – the way we were supposed to. (Thanks F.C. – we appreciate it!)
All I’m saying is this: If someone makes the effort to show up, then that’s who you should focus your energy on, not those people who didn’t bother coming out. Anything you all want to say to each other can wait until later; to do otherwise is rude, and disrespectful – period.
Let me just add one more thing: If this proves to be too hard for some folks to do, then they shouldn’t be surprised when their REAL friends – the ones who actually show up in person – stop doing so. I’m just sayin’.
And with that, this rant has officially come to an end. Thank you for not texting while you read it.
P.S. As you probably noticed, I didn’t even touch on the topic of “Texting while driving” road – that’s another post entirely. However, I will say this: If you do this, I dare you to watch this video. Once you have, ask yourself “Is it really worth it?”