Ms. Manners Calling

There’s no doubt that technology helps us advance. But in some ways, it’s taking us backwards. I’m talking about manners. Now that we all have smart phones in our hands, we’ve forgotten to pay attention to the people right in front of us. It’s like the phone deems everyone who’s not on the other end of it invisible and unimportant.

I’ve been behind people in line at the grocery store who check out a buggy full of food without ever once talking to the cashier. I’ve heard people talking on their cell phones in stores, classrooms, cars, restaurants, bathrooms, libraries, even church. The drive through lanes at both my pharmacy and my bank now have signs in the windows that say “please hang up your cell phone before approaching.”

It doesn’t end with talking. At the theater, cell phone screens glow like lightening bugs as text-messaging-teens distract viewers from the movie. Instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter and chat rooms decrease productivity in almost every office. Daily.

My kids find it socially acceptable to text others while in a conversation with me. I’ve made it a rule at my house not to allow cell phones at the dinner table. I should probably carry that rule into the conference room as it’s becoming increasingly common for people to take cell phone calls or text in the midst of a business meeting.

It seems the cell phone has become an appendage that we cannot do without. We carry it with us wherever we go. And it controls us more than we control it. While I love the convenience and total access of my i-phone, I also like to disconnect from it now and then . . . like when I’m at dinner, in a meeting, on a date, in a conversation or on vacation.

No conference call is as good as a face-to-face meeting. And no text symbol can compare to a smile on someone’s face. So the next time our cell phones start making noise – in the store, in the office or anywhere else – I hope we listen to the person in front of us first.