Right now I'm sitting in a hotel room on a weekend away and instead of connecting my laptop up to the hotels wireless network (and paying a few bucks and hour for the privilege) I've tethered my iphone via bluetooth to share it's Internet connection. Now i know this isn't exactly new technology, i remember using windows mobiles Internet sharing quite a few years ago to connect my laptop up to my o2 mobile but this did get me to thinking all the wonderful ways that we can use our phones to stay connected these days... but then i got to thinking how annoying this technology can make people.
The other night i was sitting at a dinner table with 9 other people and at one stage during the evening it occurred to me that 5 of the 10 of us weren't involved in the ancient art of conversation but were on their phones. Two iphone users were playing angry birds and comparing notes on how to get the most stars, another person was proving to a non iphone user how awesome they believed doodle jump to be, a forth was talking on the phone and the 5th was sending an email via his blackberry. I looked around a bit startled and thought to myself that only 7 or 8 years ago (when most people already had phones) this kind of thing would have been considered rude and unacceptable, i could imagine that if i were talking on my phone at dinner with other people someone would have pulled me up on it, let alone how rude it would have been considered if i was sitting there with my gameboy (ok now i feel old) playing supermario world. When exactly did this kind of behaviour become acceptable?
Remember only a few years ago (ok, I'll say a few to make myself not feel so old, it might have been a bit longer than that!) when it was considered perfectly acceptable to smoke a cigarette at a dinner table? I remember being out to dinner when we would wait for people at our table to finish their meal before we'd light up a smoke (completely ignoring people sitting at the next table munching down on their bruscetta ... how rude!) but this kind of table behaviour would be considered epically unacceptable these days, it occurs to me we may have just traded one terrible habit for another (and if you believe what some people have to say about mobile phone useage, the new habit could be as deadly as the first in the long run).
So what is to be done about this, there are countless articles, blog entries and opinions which will tell us that we're addicted to technology. I even heard a news story the other day about a family group who are urging people to have a 24 hour technology blackout, basically targeting young people they believe spend too much time on twitter or facebook. If you've ever ready my blog before you'll know my thoughts on facebook but seriously, i don't think i need to be ranting like this about facebook and i don't think we need groups of people pleading with us to ban them (or even need me to write this mobile based post) if people were sensible about the way they used this stuff. I know I'm as guilty as anyone, i am an IT Guy after all. i have 5 monitors on my desks at work, two mobiles, two desk phones and that doesn't count all the shit i have scattered throughout my house but I'm pledging here that I'm going to make a conscious effort to give people who I'm spending time with all of my (non technology using) attention. I think the more people that did this the better place our communities would be.
We shouldn't need to be told to be sensible, and more importantly we shouldn't need to be told what is sensible and what is not, 5 people sitting around a dinner table using their phones instead of talking to each other isn't sensible and surely I'm not the only one of the 10 of us at dinner that night that thought this, am i?
Cheers, The ITG
p.s. seeing as no one who reads this knows me in real life I'll have to keep myself accountable to my above pledge. I also think i should point out that i realise writing this from a hotel room whilst on a holiday instead of stepping out into the sunshine is just a little bit hypocritical.
/me heads outside to enjoy the sunshine... oh, it burns ... the humanity!!!