Think of a piece of technology, and much of the time you can also think of a drawback. Sometimes it’s significant, sometimes it’s minor.
For example, the car. Sure, it’s fun to drive, it gets us from point A to point B. But it pollutes. It can be the catalyst of much destruction. It’s expensive. It requires insurance.
How about the television? Sure, it can show us information. But it can also distract us, keep us from interacting with other humans. Old TV’s thrown out cause land waste.
And then we have the iPhone. Well, not just the iPhone. Any smart phone, particularly those after 2007. These wünderboxes do everything from surf the Internet, allow us to play games, record, edit, and upload video, take pictures, even make music! Sounds great, right?
Until you realize that everyone’s face is nearly permanently glued to the 4.5-6″ screen, and not looking at you when you speak to them, or they’re walking into walls, or the worst; they’re using the device while they drive.
These little super computers in our pocket have given us an immediate escape from social interaction, and despite how incredibly rude it is, almost everyone does it, from time to time.
The actual distraction could be anything; social networks. Games. Web browsing. Messaging. But whatever it is, it disconnects the people in the room, in the moment. Even if you manage to actually hear someone talking, you’re focus isn’t 100% on that person. That’s rude. That’s not constructive.
Don’t get me wrong; this soapbox upon which I stand is not structurally sound. I am guilty (or was guilty) of everything I mention in this article. It largely serves the purpose of me bringing attention of it to myself.
Is there a solution? I have no idea, honestly. While there are some technological solutions that may be possible, ultimately I think it’s up to the person and their own discipline to back away from the device, and engage with the people around them. Forcing some arbitrary technical restraint doesn’t correct the underlying behavior.
So what can you do? There are a number of well known things to solve the issue of “iDependency”:
- Put the phone on vibrate. Don’t answer the phone, don’t be tempted to check your email/message/What’sApp/Facebook etc.
- Turn it off. Sure, not always practical if it’s your only phone. But certainly a quick way to remove distractions.
- Limit screen time, for yourself, and your kids.
- Put the phone in Do Not Disturb. This can be set to allow phone calls to get through, but otherwise block all notifications.
- Turn on “Do not Disturb while driving”. This will activate it so music will still play, GPS will still work, but all incoming messages and email will not notify, until the phone is disconnected from Bluetooth or stops moving at significant speed.
- Institute a “no smart devices” at home policy. Put everyone’s device in a basket. At least do this at dinner, but preferably a significant part of the day.
Again, there’s no denying what amazing things that these little computers can accomplish for us, that makes our lives easier in many ways. But there’s also no denying the massive drawbacks they have for interaction amongst friends, family, and co-workers.