Put the smartphone down and talk to folks

Put the smartphone down and talk to folks

Summary: We are rapidly becoming a society with electronic gadgetry permanently attached to our hand. Instead of talking to one another, we are losing a great opportunity for visiting to the cloud.

SHARE:

We are rapidly becoming a society with electronic gadgetry permanently attached to our hand. This was driven home to me today when having a wonderful brunch with family members in town for a visit. We were sitting outside in a beautiful restaurant, enjoying the nice weather and tapping on our smartphones. I realized what we were doing when the conversation at our table lagged, and no fewer than five phones were being tapped with abandon. What a great opportunity for visiting was being lost to the cloud.

We weren't the only ones either, once I noticed what my party was doing I looked around the restaurant and easily saw two dozen phones in hands. The need to be in touch with the happenings in the world has overshadowed our need as humans to be in close touch with each other. It no longer seems to matter that there is a lot we can learn from those around us, in person and up close. We have become a society that needs to be in touch with everything, everywhere.

The need to hear what's going on in the world is important, don't get me wrong. But there's a time and place for everything, and let's face it, that time is not when sitting down with friends and family. Let's put down the phone and talk to each other. We're nice people, let's hear what each other has to say.

Image credit: Flickr user Wonderdawg777

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Smartphones

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

29 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Put the smartphone down and talk to folks

    So there were no fights, no teenage angst and while people weren't talking, they were communicating - just not with you ;-)

    All of our electronic toys (you must be using Apple, because mine are tools) are designed to increase our communication. Some of my close friends I've never seen and they live on the other side of the planet. Others are disabled and have trouble meeting me or forming a coherent sentence, but electronically they are close and crystal clear.

    You said it yourself - the conversation flagged so why shouldn't they reach out and communicate with someone - how do I say this politely - more interesting?

    I'm 59 James, but you are starting to sound like my grandfather ;-)
    tonymcs1
    • WRONG

      @tonymcs@... James is dead right I am sorry to say. If conversation flagged then it most likely shows that those who resort to 'smart'phone are unable to provide that stimulation to get a conversation going...is this not dumbing down of our ability to communicate when it may require a little more effort? I would prefer to think hard and fast to get a conversation going than resort to everyone thumbing their phones which some misguided people call communicating!
      Bradish1
    • RE: Put the smartphone down and talk to folks

      @tonymcs@...
      What James experienced, we all have, even before cell phones and electronic devices. Imagine how PO'd you used to be when talking to someone who answered the phone, and ignored you for the next 5 minutes. They have just rudely determined you or what you were saying is unimportant. True or not, it is a lack of manners, and we as a society seem to think that rudeness is an acceptable way of life.
      cwgibson
    • RE: Put the smartphone down and talk to folks

      @tonymcs@... Careful old boy, your Apple bias is showing... because I must have missed the part where James referred to the smartphones (he never mentioned a brand) as "toys" so I'd have to say that particular phrasing (and the immediate obligatory dig at Apple) was all you.

      Otherwise I agree with your post. When I meet with family or friends I rarely take my phone out - unless I'm on call and get a call from work.
      athynz
    • RE: Put the smartphone down and talk to folks

      @tonymcs@... [i]I'm 59 James, but you are starting to sound like my grandfather[/i]

      I'm a bit younger than you, but he's spot on. Social skills are quickly becoming a thing of the past, and it's a sad thing to watch.
      Badgered
    • I was just at a graduation ceremony Sunday

      @tonymcs@... <br>(Susquhanna University)<br>where the guest speaker was Harold H Saunders.<br>He pretty much said the exact same thing.
      We as a country are divided like never before, and a very import reason is that we now use technology to escape from real Face to face dialog (ironic Apple used "Facetime" for their form of not having to talk in true face to face :) )<br>Moderating talks between two countries where people are litterally killing each other needs face to face comunications, so that each sides sees the face of those they are killing, so they both feel how real it is to the other side, too.<br><br>This technology allows us to meaner, more cruel, selfish because we don't need to see the pain our words inflict, we don't need to hear what they say, a tweet or text to you and I can now ignor anything you say or display.<br><br>You aren't here so you really don't matter.<br><br>What makes the person 30 miles away more important then the person 3 feet away? At least that person took the time to show up with you, the other person didn't.<br><br>Years ago I learned from my father's business that the person at his business was far more important then the person asking prices over the phone, as the person there was <i>already a customer</i>, the person on the phoee maybe not.<br><br>If I take the time to show up to lunch with you, the least you can do is return the favor while I'm there.
      John Zern
      • RE: Put the smartphone down and talk to folks

        @John Zern

        I was at a graduation ceremony Saturday. The lady to my left was texting with her daughter, who was about to receive her Master's Degree. She still had her phone in her hand when her row was called to stand up and head for the front.

        This was also the first graduation I've attended in which we didn't stand for the procession of the faculty and the candidates. Losing some of those traditions is sad.
        zdnet@...
  • RE: Put the smartphone down and talk to folks

    It seems like a generation gap. I see the opposite happening. In a world where people are physically scattered everywhere, people are now talking more than ever in different ways. I see these kids communicating constantly with their phones, talking, texting, e-mailing, video conferencing, using social media etc. Their parents are also using social media and following their kids to see what they are up to, check who their friends are and communicating with them in ways they could never do before. Let me give you an example. The son of my cousin went to a soccer championship match in Spain. His team won and everyone ran into the field at the end of the match. While on the field, he took a picture of himself and his friends celebrating. He immediately posted it on Facebook. His mom while at home immediately knew where he was and that he ripped his pants while climbing the fence. So she gave him and earful on Facebook. In the meantime I in the U.S.A. , celebrated with him from my phone while watching the NBA game at a sports bar with friends. At the same time, my cousin's sister who lives in France also commented on the win. All of this communication happened in real time. Before these gadgets all this family communication or "talking" was impossible and didn't happen at all so those family bonds where not maintained.<br>So when you see people texting on their phone they are indeed communicating and more often than not what happens on the phone gets introduced as a topic of conversation for those present. The truth is that before, even without these gadgets, it didn't necessary meant that people would start talking.
    mktpostal
    • RE: Put the smartphone down and talk to folks

      @mktpostal@... sorry, that is a special situation that you discuss re:spain etc. Do like the previous poster says...leave your phone at home and concentrate on those around you, otherwise stay at home and use your email, SMS, facebook and all that stuff. It has a place but not in a face to face conversation. Put the dumb/smart phone away
      Bradish1
    • RE: Put the smartphone down and talk to folks

      @mktpostal@... [i]Before these gadgets all this family communication or "talking" was impossible and didn't happen at all so those family bonds where not maintained.[/i]

      My problem isn't with talking... it's texting or web surfing. Talking over long distances has been possible for quite some time now. But when people get into groups for whatever reason, and stop talking to each other, all sitting around texting (sometimes to the person sitting right next to them). That's a problem.
      Badgered
  • Banned at the table

    'Phones, laptops, television etc. are banned at the table...
    wright_is
  • Bang on

    When I go to visit family I actually leave my phone at home and pick up my messages later.

    If I am having an especially interesting conversation with someone I also have found it beneficial to just ignore the message alerts. Unless I am on-call there is nothing so important that it cannot be responded to at a later, more appropriate time.
    stephen.feltmate
  • Couldn't agree more

    We should all take a break from technology once in a while. When I was a kid (1970s) once a week we had a 'no TV' day where we actually sat & talked as a family, which made a nice change from me & dad glued to a TV in one room watching the 'Six Million Dollar Man' whilst Mum & my sister were watching something else in the other room.
    AndyPagin
  • RE: Put the smartphone down and talk to folks

    Silence is golden (but distraction isn't).
    josh92
  • RE: Put the smartphone down and talk to folks

    Well, many times in the past I've used my phone as conversation starter or ice breaker. But I agree, family time should be family time without the phone.
    dave95.
  • Communication changes

    Approximately seven thousand years ago, our Neolithic ancestors decided that storytelling around a campfire wasn't enough - they had to write it down. Were there a few people chiseling tablets by the fire ignoring the spoken word? Possibly. But our future was being written.

    Things change. Longing for the good old days is natural, but understand we're on the cusp of something important.
    Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • RE: Put the smartphone down and talk to folks

      @rbethell [i]Things change. Longing for the good old days is natural, but understand we're on the cusp of something important.[/i]

      hmm... now I know how my grandparents felt, and I'm starting to regret ever using those exact same words.
      Badgered
    • Not so important that you ignor those right next to you.

      @rbethell
      Is texting so important that you run the person in the lane nest to you off the road to their deaths because you had to imediatelly respond how you felt that Jenny broke up with James?

      Is it so important that you sit at a computer catching up with friends via one liners, that your baby drowns in the bathtub?

      What is so darn important that requires an immediate response that the conductor of a train, or bus driver needs to risk the lives of everyone in your bus?

      Sure, if a family memeber lives 3000 miles away, of course this is how you can communicate like never before.

      The old saying [i]just because you can do something does not mean you must do that thing[/i] is something that will never change, no matter hown many a millenium passes.
      John Zern
    • RE: Put the smartphone down and talk to folks

      @rbethell The whole point of SMS, e-mail, Facespace etc. is that the message waits there for you to look at it. You don't have to respond within a couple of nano seconds.

      If you are having a conversation, these things will sit there and wait for you to finish what you are doing.
      wright_is
  • RE: Put the smartphone down and talk to folks

    This is why phones are banned at the dinner table in my house. And they must be shut off or silenced (no vibrate, either), so the alert cannot become a distraction as well.

    I strive to do the same when I am out eating with my friends/family for the very reasons you cite.

    I keep thinking back to when very few people had cell phones and if they did, txt messaging was rarely, if ever, used. We all got along, we all communicated, we got our information timely still and everybody was happy. So why do we INSIST on having this now? It was never a necessity before, so why is it now? Sometimes technology is a good thing, but I also think there are times when it hampers the human connection, and it has definitely achieved this point in our lives today.

    I have merely a feature phone and am wary of this since I am looking at a smartphone in the near future. I hope I am able to stick to my guns on this topic and continue down the path of maintaining a HUMAN connection with REAL people.
    bc3tech