by Mabelle De Jesus
Smart phones, tablets, and mobile computers are everywhere. Everybody has one. Gone are the days when we can’t be reached one way or the other. We could be in the bathroom, in a meeting, or boarding a plane. If we have our gadget with us then we are reachable. Furthermore, work, friends, and family expect us to pick up once we hear our phone beep. Which leads me to ask, “In our desire to build the bridges of communication, have we actually chosen to be disassociated from personal interaction?”
While having dinner one evening, I noticed a good-looking couple on a date. Sadly, they were not engaged in conversation. Rather, he was constantly on his phone while she was scrolling through hers. Sadder still, this was a common behavior among fellow diners. I’ve seen friends, couples, and family alike opting to twiddle with their gadgets instead of talking to one another. The location varies but the scene remains the same – people who are physically together but mentally isolated from each other.
In an effort to promote face-to-face interaction and social technology-related etiquette, here are three easy rules to remember:
DIAL DOWN YOUR VOLUME
If you really have to take a call, remember to turn down the volume, both for your phone and your voice. In some instances when reception is bad, we tend to compensate by speaking louder. For the sake of privacy, excuse yourself from the room, go somewhere private, and talk in a modulated voice. If you still have reception problems, turn your earpiece volume up or tell them that you will call them back when reception is better.
PERSON BEFORE PHONE
Make an effort to set your phone aside and interact with your companions. It doesn’t really matter if you have 2000 Facebook friends; you can’t even relate to the people who you are sharing the meal with. You can turn this into a fun game. Gather everyone’s phones and stack them face down in the middle of the table. The first person who reaches for his or her phone before the meal ends buys everyone dessert!
ON OCCASION, MISS THAT CALL
If you have to ask “Excuse me, can I take this call,” the answer is probably “no”. Such occasions include:
a. Being on a date – nothing says, “I like you” more than giving your full attention. If you keep glancing at your phone, it gives the impression that you are bored and can’t wait to get away. And even if you aren’t that interested, being blatantly obvious about it is just plain rude.
b. Social gatherings where a meal is shared – don’t miss out on the camaraderie and joy of being with your family and friends. Put down that phone and immerse yourself in building relationships with those around you.
c. Watching performances such as movies, plays, or concerts – people came to watch the show, not to hear your kitschy ringtone or your phone conversation. Put that phone in silent mode and call or text back after the show.
d. Meetings and seminars – don’t miss out on that brilliant idea that could change the way you work. More importantly, don’t distract other people’s attention from the speaker. Did you see that announcement that said, “Please put your phones in silent mode”? HEED IT!
e. Ceremonies such as mass, baptisms, weddings, funerals, etc. – Don’t disrupt the solemnity of the occasion with a ringing or a beeping mobile gadget.
These are the basic rules of tech etiquette. Remember, mobile gadgets were made to make communication easier, but more than that, it is a tool to enhance interaction, not to hinder it. Use it wisely!
Mabelle de Jesus is a financial advisor and agency leader in one of the leading insurance companies in the country. She is a gadget-phile/city slicker turned farm girl who has a passion for cooking and a love for food. She spends weekdays immersed in the corporate world while indulging her alternate persona as a writer whenever creativity strikes.