Saturday, September 13, 2014

Turn off that cell phone!

This morning there was an interesting article on Facebook about a restaurant that consistently got bad reviews. They served the same number of customers daily but the wait was longer, service slower, and reviews much more negative. They compared monitor tapes from ten years ago and today. Ten years ago, no one had a cell phone. Today, people turn to the phones are soon as they are seated; it may be 20 minutes before they're ready to place their order. Some call wait people to the table because they can't get wifi and want it fixed. When served their food, they spend minutes taking pictures of it and of each other. Then they ask their server to take pictures of all of them. All of this distracts the server from other customers and adds to the time customers spend at the restaurant. Ten years ago, diners were fed in an hour and five minutes; today it is only five minutes shy of two hours. So think about that...and about the server's time  you whip out your phone. The world probably won't stop if you don't get a call immediately.
We are getting the message over and over that technology is separating us from our fellow man. We dine together for companionship or should, but too many of us isolate ourselves by turning on the phone. I've been to dinner with different branches of my family when all four--parents and kids--were on their phones and I was left staring at the ceiling. (One family is an exception--their poor deprived children don't have phones.) My daughter arrives every afternoon to pick up her son and often as not is on the phone. When we sit to visit, she's on the phone.
The article this morning got me to thinking--if you take the dimmest view, we are on the slippery slope to becoming a nation of isolated individuals, with nothing in common with our fellow man. It may be a long slope, but it's out there.
In the short view, cell phones and email may account for an increasing lack of collegiality in our society. We don't take time to put down the phone and listen, really listen to other people. Even families. We're on our phones, our iPads, watching TV. What happened to good old-fashioned dinner time conversations and story telling (my kids can tell wonderful tales about family dinners in their childhood--they had the example, for sure). Maybe today we're forgetting how to listen.
Political scientists and other such types tell us we have the most polarized political panorama in history. There is no middle ground, just two extremes (I'm as guilty as anyone). Our leaders are either conservatives or liberals, and the Grand Canyon stands between them. Could technology be part of the problem? What would happen if we put twelve senators, six from each side of the aisle, in a locked room for twelve hours? (With food supplied of course but no phones, computers, TV, etc.) Would they kill each other or is it too much to hope for that they'd begin to listen?
I'll have the roast salmon with my texting, please.

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