Stop Telling Me When To Use My Cell Phone

Column: Takin’ Care of Business
By Scott L. Clark

Today is day one of the first full week of vacation I’ve taken in 2011. While most people would probably traveling to tropical paradises or relaxing at home, I’m spending my extra forty hours in a classroom. That’s right, I’m currently taking a condensed 3-credit class over the course of one week. Sure, I’d rather be sleeping in over the week or sitting in my basement playing video games, but it will be really nice to get a class knocked out in such a short amount of time.

This particular class is called “Technology in the Classroom”, and is supposed to teach me how to use modern devices as teaching tools when I become a teacher. Within the first hour, the teacher had us watching a youtube video about how we need to keep students engaged using technology that they are interested in. She even told a story about a student who compared going to school like getting on an airplane for a flight: while sitting in the terminal, we listen to our iPod’s, text on our phones and use our laptops, but as soon as we get on the plane we’re asked to “please shut off all electronic devices.” I sat back relieved with the idea that finally an adult was speaking my language. How refreshing it was to hear a professor say that technology is a good thing that we should embrace. Then, she promptly asked us to turn off our cell phones and not browse the Internet during the class. /facepalm

I have to be perfectly honest. I’m getting really tired of people telling me that I use my cell phone too much. I didn’t pay over $300 for this device to sit in my pocket unused. Unlike those who disagree with me, I like to be plugged in constantly. I like staying in constant touch with my friends and keeping up with news that interests me. If it bothers you that I’m looking at something else or chatting with someone else, well that’s just too damn bad. I have a lot going on in my life all at the same time, and I’m not one to focus on just one thing at any given moment; that includes whoever happens to be in close proximity to me. We live in a digital age, people. If you’re too afraid of technology, that’s your own fault. Catch up with the times and realize that it’s a different world. We communicate in many more ways than just in person, so get over the fact that I’m utilizing technology instead of listening to you talk about how great the next Twilight movie is going to be.

I literally had some old guy approach me at a restaurant when we were walking out chastise me for texting while I was the table with my wife and some friends. He made some comment about “missing out on good experiences with your nose buried in a phone.” He’s lucky I’m a nice guy who’s non-confrontational, because I might have caused a scene with how angry this guy made me. In my experience, people like this just aren’t comfortable with or don’t understand how this kind of technology works, so they immediately shun it. Don’t hate on me because I refuse to become an old fart who only sticks with technology that I grew up learning first-hand.

That’s not to say that there is a time and place to keep your cell phone off. Movie theaters, for example. I can’t remember the last time I went to see a movie where I didn’t hear someone’s annoying ringtone in the middle of some scene totally distracting from my enjoyment. It’s not that hard to simply put your phone on vibrate, folks. Outside of settings like that where the extra noise is distracting to everyone around, I see no problem with my having my cell phone on me at all times. Hell, I haven’t had the damn thing turned off for more than a reboot since I bought it.

One friend has labeled me with having a condition he called “Friend ADD”, which apparently means that I have too many friends. Another friend yelled at me during a party on Saturday when I was texting a friend directions to said party. I believe something to the effect of “pay attention to the people that are actually at the party” was said. This is just the most asinine thing I had heard in a long time.

Look, if you choose to stay unconnected, then fine.  I’m not the kind of person that likes to vacation out in the middle of BFE with no cell phone or technology.  It’s just not for me; get over it.  Stop telling me how to spend my time with technology that I’m not afraid of.

/rant

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~ by Scott L. Clark on June 6, 2011.

6 Responses to “Stop Telling Me When To Use My Cell Phone”

  1. I completely agree with you Scott!!! I have been told several times by friends “who do you need to text, everyone you know is here”. Ummm completely untrue! I have more than two friends! I enjoy texting and like being connected to people also. The only pet peeve I ever have with texting is when I am in the middle of a conversation with someone and they get a text and completely ignore me and begin texting. That is just plain rude. If you don’t have enough manners to be polite and wait for the conversation to finish or lull then perhaps you shouldn’t be my friend in the first place. Totally not referring to you by the way Scott, just generalizing! 🙂

    Great rant! I agree 100%!!!

  2. In general, I agree with your opinion that use of personal devices should be self-policed. If I’m losing touch with my friends and family IRL, then that’s my loss. And if that lack of interpersonal communication causes the catastrophic end of the world, it won’t just be because of me.
    And there is a difference between using technology to enhance education and having a student (or teacher) immersed in their personal virtual world. I would think that the classroom, like the movie theater, is one of those times that the use of personal tech should be limited. Not necessarily strictly enforced, but respectfully controlled.

    End Of Line

  3. I’ve adopted a rule of paying attention to the company I’m keeping at the time. If it’s friends who don’t mind, then I’m going to respond to texts. If it’s someone that it would be unprofessional to be not giving my full attention, then no. If it’s during a conversation I’m not interested in, then yes. I might be tweeting about something I just heard. I do find myself having a hard time multi-tasking and truly paying attention to the people I’m with in “real time,” so I try not to. There is some truth to what that older man said to you, it just may not have applied to you at that time.

  4. Can’t tell if this is true or not… It’s kind of Swiftian. If my wife and I were having a dinner with you and you kept dicking around with you phone, I’d consider you a total tool. And I doubt the old guy at the restaurant had much more to fear than a strong text IN ALL CAPS!

    There is a time and place for everything. Put the phone away, engage with those around you and learn how to navigate adult society. If you’re hearing complaints from multiple people, you probably do have a problem.

  5. As an outside salesman who uses technology; including work and personal phones and a laptop (soon to be a tablet), to gain a competetive advantage I disagree. It is rude to not be paying attention to someone talking to you because someone is texting you. If I receive a phone call, text, or email, while talking to a customer I either wait till I leave or I ask them if it is alright if I respond then. I think the dinner thing is big too, especially if I invited you. Think about this, with your kids having their head buried in technology all the time, the dinner table may be the one place you have left to speak to them. It will be hard to get them to pay attention to you, if you can’t pay attention to them.

  6. All that being said this is a very good topic and I did enjoy the read Scott.

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