Maybe Put the Phone Away?

Maybe Put the Phone Away?

girl on phone

Let’s be honest….your phone goes with you everywhere, doesn’t it?  From the grocery store to the bathroom…. you feel bereft if you don’t have it.  Sure…we need them, we want them and we love them, but, the truth is our cell addiction can lead us into cringe-worthy behaviour.

The big news is….we’re being rude

Not long ago, I was at a small concert in a very intimate venue – just a hundred people.  The lights were low, the mood was great and Chantal Kreviazuk was swinging into one of her best-known songs, when a cell phone rang – loudly – and not for the first time that evening.  Chantal stopped dead and called for the house lights.

“Whose phone was that? Yours? Take it outside please – everyone else paid to hear the show, not your conversation.”  As the phone owner slunk out a side door, Chantal continued, singling out a woman in the front row. “You…yes, you….why are you watching the show through your phone? I must look pretty tiny. You paid for great seats so put your damned phone away and see me full-size.”

Suddenly, a hundred cell phones were surreptitiously clicked off and buried in the bottoms of purses and jacket pockets.

Staying in constant touch has become our obsession. 

Cell phones at the table are as common as knives and forks, but a whole lot more insulting.  When you pull out your phone and focus on the screen, the message is clear. You’re less interested in the people you’re with than in the person you’re texting.

Loud cell phone conversations turn us all into unwilling eavesdroppers. On one interminable train ride, I listened to the prince sitting behind me tell his wife their marriage was over.  He’d been cheating and she’d found out by – wait for it – checking his cell phone while he was sleeping.  The volume on his phone was turned up so loud that I could hear both sides of the conversation and, because the train was packed, there was nowhere for me to move.  I was stuck in the middle of their breakup, hearing things I never should have.

You need phone with you every second of every day if you want to break the internet.

Our selfie fixation can create serious moral and even legal trouble. Consider the woman who deliberately lined up a selfie on the Brooklyn Bridge, with a suicidal man poised to jump in the background. Humanitarian that she was, the woman posted it and has been living in a world of public shaming ever since. Another young woman took a mock-shocked-face selfie in a locker room, including an older woman behind her who was unwittingly taking off her clothes. Funny? Not so much….when the older woman saw the post and sued.

I would never suggest that we get rid of our cell phones – mostly because no one would hear me anyway, so engrossed are we all in checking our messages.  What I will suggest, however, is that we declare a few cell-free zones in our lives…like the dining table, the locker room, the spa, the gym, planes, trains and automobiles, elevators and really, anywhere that someone could overhear our conversations or read over our shoulders. Most importantly, let’s put the phones away any time that we’re with those we care about….the people who might reasonably expect us to find them more interesting than a tiny screen.

Is a travel writer with weekly columns in the Toronto Star, various other newspapers and She's a thrilled to be a blog contributor, and is inspired by the people she's met through White Oaks.