Sarah Morgan

Healthcare Geek.
Professional Communicator.


Fashionably Rude

“[M]obile connectedness has eroded fundamental human courtesies”, says the New York Times. And I have to say, I agree.

People use their mobiles in the middle of conversations, during fancy dinners, at stoplights, in checkout lines – basically, at any conceivable moment when they ought to be concentrating on where they are.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit shamefacedly that I’ve done all of the above.

There are terms like “intermittent reinforcement” and “dopamine squirt” to explain why we we push safety and etiquette aside for that little electronic rectangle – but basically, we mix up a cocktail in the little chemistry lab in our head that makes us want to pay more attention to our mobile than to our surroundings.

Has anyone figured out how to use intermittent reinforcement to train us to skip snacks or crave workouts? Could someone get on that, please?

But it’s become more than just chemical. After all, there’s a biological reason for addiction to lots of things, but that doesn’t usually make it socially acceptable to be an addict. Why is it that now it seems trendy to be addicted to your mobile?

Because it’s cool to be aloof. If you’re so cool as not only be in a cool situation, but also to have something even more interesting elsewhere, you’re even cooler than everyone you’re with. You’ve got all these people in front of you, but even more on the other end of the phone. You win the cool contest. Right?

Except, no. Whatever you’re removing your concentration for, unless it’s crying or on fire, people might be fooled into thinking you’re important, but they won’t excuse you for ignoring them. Nobody does. We all want to be the most important, and we don’t like being treated otherwise.

Rude is rude, and technology doesn’t make manners obsolete. If we’re lucky to be in a situation worth noticing, we should be noticing it.

Please consider this an admonition for myself just as much as for anyone else.


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