I must be showing my age, but as each day passes my distaste for smartphones grows. First and foremost, I believe smartphones (and now iPads) are responsible for a significant decline in social manners. It’s bad enough that most teenagers lack basic social skills and table manners, but their parents are quickly catching up!
I am old fashioned enough to believe that good manners and respect for others are still important, and should play a major role in both our personal and business lives. Unfortunately, I think I am in a minority these days.
The other night Mary and I went out to an expensive, high-end steak restaurant in Tampa. Mary and I have been married 44 years this month and we continue, as always, our practice of going out to dinner on Friday nights.
Believe it or not, we always have something to talk about, even after all these years. We might talk politics, or it might be about a bumpy flight from Melbourne to Tampa, or we might end up in a discussion about some bargain cruise Mary found earlier in the day.
As much as we still had to talk about, I actually think we were the exceptions at the restaurant. Most of the people sitting around us were just too busy sending tweets and texting others rather than talking to their table companions or guests.
Sitting nearby was a table of four young adults, probably in their mid-20s. During the 45 minutes or so that I observed them (I get obsessed over this kind of stuff), three of the four adults were using smartphones. Two were texting and the third was attempting to have what appeared to be a romantic conversation with someone at the other end of the line, this despite the fact that his date was sitting across from him.
His date seemed to be practicing napkin folding, since it was obvious that was the only thing she could do since the other three at her table were using their phones. Had it been me in her place, I would have gone ballistic at some point, throwing water at everyone at the table and then walking out. “Hello there, is anybody listening? Do you want to talk to me, or are you all just too busy to even see me sitting here?”
Clandestine Messages to…
Just a few feet away sat another young couple. They made a beautiful pair, and they should have had a thousand things to talk about. Instead, they each held their smartphone in one hand, while the fingers of their other hand moved furiously over their miniature keyboards sending messages to unknown recipients.
I could only imagine the clandestine messages being exchanged. The guy: “Hi, sweetheart. As soon as I drop Carla off at her apartment, I will be over. Do you want me to pick up some wine?” The woman: “All he talks about is himself. He is so boring; I can’t wait to get home. Maybe we could meet Steve and Bob at the hot tub later?”
Yes, I know lots of things have changed these past 10-15 years, and I am certainly not opposed to new technology, but just because technology is changing doesn’t mean we have to change the basic rules dealing with good manners and courtesy to others. While I don’t believe there is anything inherently wrong with texting or tweeting, it is simply impolite to send or read text messages or tweets while in the presence of others.
Folks can rationalize all they want, especially the younger generation, but if you stop a conversation with me to read an incoming text or you suddenly decide to post a tweet while in my presence, you are simply being discourteous and demonstrating poor manners.
Well, that’s my rant and I am sticking to it!
Marketing and Sales 101
As Mary knows well, even a small incident can send me into a 20-minute rant. Although I am no longer involved in the day-to-day operations at Paragon, I can’t help but hear what is going on since my office adjoins the front lobby.
Last week, I was ranting to anyone who would listen that printers in this country aren’t failing because they don’t have a Facebook page, don’t know how to tweet, or don’t maintain a presence on LinkedIn.