When I first joined the workforce my colleagues were permitted to smoke in their offices. That’s right…ashtrays on their desks. Seriously! Then one day, a law was passed that forced all of the smokers outside. If they wanted to satisfy their craving, they had to go outside to a designated area. They were given a nice place to sit and smoke and visit so, except for the heat of Arizona summers, I don’t think they minded.
However, I do remember feeling bitter about the perceived special privileges given to smokers. It seemed no matter how much needed to be done – the smokers got their break. They were permitted extra time in some cases because they “needed” their cigarette in order to function. This got me thinking that maybe mobile devices are the new cigarette. We excuse mobile devices in work and social settings because people “need” to be connected.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’m guilty of taking out my device when I’m surrounded by interesting people. I guess, one could say that the “need” to know if someone has tweeted or facebooked something that “must” be immediately reviewed is an addiction of mine…
I’m sick of being that person. I want to get more focused, enjoy the real live people in front of me, whenever I have the opportunity, and show respect when people make time for me face-to-face. Wall posts and tweets can be viewed anytime – so they’ll have to wait.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. So far, I’ve come up with these three reasons it’s ok to take out your mobile device when in a meeting or out socially:
- If you need to call 911
- If the room is dark and light from your device will illuminate the room or a menu/document to be viewed
- If something MUST be Googled to settle a debate and avoid a full out riot
So, the next time you’re at a meeting or out socially, think about your companion and the message you’re sending before you pull out your mobile device. If your mobile device was a cigarette would you take it out even just for a quick drag? If the answer is no, then I challenge you to have the same courtesy with your mobile device. Remember courteous smokers would ask people in their group if they “minded if they smoke” … at a minimum be conscious of your mobile addiction.
I don’t think a mobile courtesy law is in our near future, but we can still make a difference. Will you join me in this effort and step away from the device and enjoy the people? If so, leave your name in the comments section and we can police each other on our mobile “smoking” progress.