I was at one of my favorite local restaurants this past weekend and while I was waiting, I noticed two really cute little kids at a table with a well-dressed man who I assumed was their father. This assumed father in an expensive suit was perched like a penguin at a table and it appeared doing his college best to try and talk to his kids, who looked like they were on Prozac.
I thought, awwwww, how nice , a dad, with his kids (okay, yeah, I am a sucker). This guy was talking non-stop about something, blabbing on and on in the general direction of his kids, yet upon closer inspection I noticed the kids weren’t really paying attention at all. Now, clearly this was no company for Socratic dialogue – but still, there was no connect at all.
I thought, hmmm. Is he scolding them? Then I saw him laugh. No, that’s not it. Are they just to young to understand what he’s talking to them about? Yeah, I was really trying to figure out what was going on, to the point that I had almost forgotten what I was doing at the restaurant in the first place. I paid and glanced back over.
Disconnecting To Connect
Nope, same guy, same scene except…wait…a minute. Oh, no…is that guy? Could he be? No…. I squinted my eyes, looked closely across the room, and zeroed in on his ear reflected in the mirror, and sure enough…I swear I almost shouted “OH MY GOD, HE’S ON THE PHONE!!” I gasped instead. That whole time, instead of trying to do what I naively gave him credit for, almost shed a tear over, he was on the f-ing phone.
Now everything made sense. Now I saw why these kids looked like they were in a dead zone. Oh, the judgments flew, and they were flying everywhere. And you’re right; I didn’t give him the benefit of the doubt. I was way beyond giving this guy the benefit of the doubt – to be fair he could’ve been on the phone with a sick relative, or talking another kid through a crisis.
So I caught myself – I didn’t know why this guy was on the phone, or why his kids looked drugged. And is it any of my business? Some would say no, some would say it takes a village.
A Responsibility To Your Family Or A Responsibility To Your Phone?
I see it so much now, parents-hell, people of all ages-who are with each other but not where they are, obviously wanting to connect, but not present to being connected. I watch young kids’ digits manipulate with their opposables, texting like fiends, like junkies, while in the car, while driving the car, parking, talking, walking, riding bikes, skateboards, eating in restaurants. It’s like we should all have the friggin’ phones surgically attached to our bodies! Or, how about, hang up the bloody phone once and a while?
Let’s take a look at what some modern-day respect and responsibility might look like …
If you are driving in the presence of other human beings, hang up the phone-you are putting them in danger. At least, use the speaker. You wanna kill yourself, that’s your decision. The rest of us want to live.
If you have children and feel burdened by their presence and wish they were not with you, get help, give them up for adoption, or at least try and talk to people you care about less than them during business hours or when they’re sleeping. Kids need attention, respect, to feel safe and to have an enlightened witness to see them!
Basically pay attention to where you are and the effect you may be having on other people. If it seems rude, it probably is. Just walk outside or keep your voice down. Manners are how we show each other respect!
Of course, I – like everyone else -have a phone. But I try like the dickens to be sensitive, both in regards to my phone etiquette and just in general. Lately, every Friday I try and leave my phone at home for several hours, practicing what it was like when people had to wait. I highly recommend it.