We’re addicted to our phones: 84% worldwide say they couldn’t go a single day without their mobile device in hand and a Time magazine survey found that 75% of those aged 25-29 sleep with theirs.
Mobile Phone Addiction
Does it annoy you that everywhere you look someone is on their mobile phone? You see a line of people at a bus stop and nearly everyone has their head bowed over their mobile, completely oblivious to what’s going on around them.
Okay, well I suppose it’s fine to be texting, playing a game, or choosing a new pair of shoes on your phone while waiting for a bus (for goodness sake I wouldn’t expect anyone to just stand there and do nothing for a whole 5 minutes) but doesn’t it just annoy you when you’re trying to have a conversation with a real person and they’re only half listening to you? This often happens to me when I’m trying to have a conversation with my daughter; I’m talking and she’s texting and the annoying thing is I know she’s incapable of multi-tasking and therefore, everything I say to her is a waste of breath.
I read an interesting article about this very subject a week or so ago on LinkedIn. It was a post written by Naomi Simson and she was discussing the fact that people don’t speak to each other any more because they’re always on their mobile. This made her wonder what she was missing out on because she was often not ‘present’ in other people’s company.
Naomi also considered the fact that nowadays, there are high expectations for all of us to be contactable at all times. In fact, a friend of mine just the other day told me that one of his clients texted him at 8 O’clock in the evening while he was having his evening meal. He briefly checked his phone and noticed that the text was anonymous and it just read ‘can you give me an update’, no more. As my friend has many clients and didn’t have any idea who this message was from he decided to leave it until the following day. However the following day he didn’t have the opportunity to check who the message was from as he had an early morning meeting, by which time the said client, who had now made himself known, had tried to contact him again, failed, and left a curt, rather angry message on the phone’s answering service to say that he no longer wished to do business with my friend as he was unreachable! In my friend’s view this was an excellent piece of self selection in action.
It’s the same thing with emails and we’re all to blame. We expect an immediate response from an email; or at least a reply within the hour, or pushing it, the same day at the very least. We send an email off and we wait. There’s no ‘out of office message’ so we know they’ve read it. We keep checking our inbox over and over, we begin to simmer as we wait, we begin to feel slightly stressed and eventually our imagination gets the better of us and we start imagining all kinds of scenarios. They’re ignoring me; Something’s wrong why haven’t they replied? What are they doing? Who’s more important than me? When a reply does eventually land in our inbox to say ‘Sorry, I’ve been in a meeting all day’ we feel a wave of happiness spread over us. We feel loved. Do you ever feel like this? Do you think that we’ve turned into control freaks?
Finally Naomi asks ‘Is all this ‘immediate’ communication really giving us the opportunity to do good work? Probably not, as emails are often misinterpreted and we can spend many hours trying to dig ourselves out of a badly worded email that was fired off without due consideration.
Also I believe some of us have forgotten what it’s like to have a proper conversation with a real person. When I worked in an office, my colleagues would email me even though they were sitting right next to me and when I asked them why they didn’t just talk to me face to face they said that they prefered to send an email so that there was a record of what was said – crikey are we really so hung up about CYA?
So Naomi is on a personal challenge for the next 21 days to not use a mobile device in the presence of others. Actually she began her challenge several days ago now, so I wonder how she’s getting on? She was so looking forward to meeting lots of people to have wonderful, meaningful conversations with – I wonder if she found anyone? I’m thinking that perhaps she starting to feel a bit lonely by now.
How do you feel about the intrusion of mobile phones in our lives? Do you think there will come a point in the future when we go completely virtual, work from our homes and only ever communicate with each other through technology?