A Face vs. a Screen - What's Your Communication Preference?
It dawned on me, as I stood there trying to see their face over their phones that, wow, this is acceptable behavior now. If I’m talking to someone, it’s perfectly alright if they bust out their phone and start Tweeting, texting or updating someone online while ignoring me in the process.
Granted, this is acceptable in the workplace, but now it's morphed into social settings, which is surprising. I used to work at a company where it was standard procedure for everyone to bring their laptops to every meeting. I always wondered how we expected to outsmart the competition when half our brains were watching our email and the other half was sporadically paying attention to the conversation. No one was entirely present in the room, so how were we expected to put our minds together and come up with something brilliant? Now we have the same problem in social settings, but instead of limiting our creativity, it's making people feel inadequate.
David Carr, with The New York Times wrote an article on this topic this week that clearly struck a chord with a lot of people based on the 200 + responses. He explained that while he was presenting on a panel last month at SXSW called “I’m So Productive, I Never Get Anything Done,” a Reuters employee said something that made everyone stop in their tracks.
“When people are out and they’re among other people they need to just put everything down,” he said. “It’s fine when you’re at home or at work when you’re distracted by things, but we need to give that respect to each other back.”
His words brought sudden and tumultuous applause. It was sort of a moment, given that we were sitting amid some of the most digitally devoted people in the hemisphere. Perhaps somewhere on the way to the merger of the online and offline world, we had all stepped across a line without knowing it.”
The article had some great points in it. And don't get me wrong, I’m all for using every communication channel and digital device at our disposal, but I was glad to read that the trailblazers of digital technology at SXSW think we've gone too far. Hopefully, this sentiment will trickle down to the masses and we can feel confident that one Tweet won't encourage a person to tune out their in-person company.