Put down the damn phone

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I love social media.

I have two blogs. Two Twitter accounts. I’m on Facebook.  I belong to countless online communities.

So I understand the lure, the pull, the sexy side of it. Even though I have all this stuff, I know I don’t always use it in a productive way. This has bothered me a bit more lately, as other matters push for my attention. I’m trying to strike the right balance between doing things that are fun, doing things for professional benefit, and living in the real world.

I’m trying to keep a firm line in the sand between online and real life.

However, lately I’ve noticed more and more folks hauling out the iPhone or some other model of smart phone for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with phone calls. 

My teenage daughter and her QWERTY camera phone are a thorn in my side. Just today she sent me a picture message. Of what? Some stupid candid picture of me doing yard work. Great. It’s probably on her MySpace page by now.

Sure, we pay the bill. If she pushes our buttons too much she knows she loses the privilege of having it. We’ve threatened it and we’ve followed through.

But what to do with all the adults out there who don’t have that behavioral threat hanging over their social-media addled brains?

Which brings me to today’s installment of Bitchfest:

Unless it’s a social media event or work-related, put down the damn phone.

At back yard cookouts, weddings, family parties, children’s birthday parties, time and again I see one or two folks checking out of the moment and getting lost in cyberspace. I used to be ignorant. I thought they were checking their messages or calendars. Maybe they were on-call for work? Nope. They are Tweeting away or Facebooking or browsing around. 

I’ve watched a guest at a cookout sit and stare down at his phone nestled in his lap while his children splashed in the pool and his not-so-social-media-savvy host sat nearby. Last weekend I was at a party where a guest just could not stop talking about and using his iPhone. It was a child’s birthday party. Obviously he was bored.

His rudeness paved the way for a few others to haul out their smart phones. Let the pissing contest begin. Meanwhile, who’s watching the kids?

Let’s put it another way: If I pulled the book I’m reading out of my purse and opened it and began reading while seated at a party, would I be viewed as rude? If I brought my laptop to a wedding reception so that I could compose a blog post or check Facebook, would I get a few dirty looks?

Put down the damn phone.

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