I’d appreciate your feedback on a potential letter for my family, to correct an annoying situation before it gets out of hand:
“One of the issues facing mankind is how to manage technology. A lot of people let the technology run them. It should be the other way around.
“Technology is here for our convenience, to make our life easier and better.
“If it doesn’t do this, we need to have the guts to turn it down.
“I examine any technology that comes my way. When and if it does a job for me, I will embrace it. If not, I will reject it. I make a conscious decision about everything I do.
“Example: I do not have a cell phone. So far this year, there’ve been three occasions when a cell phone would’ve been handy. It was never a life or death situation.
“So, when you come to our place for dinner or a visit, please leave ALL your electronic devices at home, in the car, or on our door-step, as you do your boots and please add your baseball caps.
“You generally have been very good about this, but it’s creeping in more and more.”
Technology Must Not Rule
Plenty of people would agree with the intent of this letter, but I wonder, is it effective in bringing people together, or off-putting?
The common annoyance is about people keeping their phones with them at the dining table, continually checking them instead of joining in conversations.
Worse, they often avoid group interaction later too, and hive off to text privately, check and respond to their Facebook account, etc.
Is some of this tech immersion just a current form of “socializing,” that’ll also evolve?
Listen to (mostly young) people sharing what they just saw on social media.
But what about the (mostly older) host who’s prepared a meal, and looked forward to bringing family/friends together?
It’s easy to see both sides.
If the guests/family members are happy and grateful to be there, and end up having an enjoyable time, how wrong is that picture?
Well, okay, some polite interaction is necessary, and if someone’s face is into a phone, it’s not happening much.
So here are some potential lines to draw:
Like guns in Old-West cowboy movies, phones should be left near the front door, to be picked up after the meal.
Unless you’re employed as an emergency responder, the phone can wait till you leave.
If you have a situation that needs checking (e.g. sick child at home), you can leave the table to check, preferably from another room.
If you’re in the middle of a work-related issue, explain to your host and arrive after your calls are done.
Anyone who disagrees with setting such boundaries can do as they like, of course. Lots of families in a previous generation ate meals on “TV-tables” while watching favorite shows.
When company came and joined the viewers, that, too, was sometimes called “getting together.”
Technology surrounds us and even babies are growing up with it constantly around them.
For children, it becomes a part of their lives early on, to contact parents when needed.
Schools rely on computers as teaching tools and that deepens the connection to all other tech sources.
Each household, such as yours, has the right to create standards and rules, should think through what they can live with when compromises are needed, and be open to change when essential.
Readers: What have you done regarding no-phone-zones, and how’s that working for you?
FEEDBACK Regarding the young woman whose college-age brother lives with a guy who groped her when she visited them (Sept. 6):
Reader – “She should report the groping to her brother in front of his boyfriend.
“And say that if the guy were really gay he’d never have groped her because gay guys aren’t interested in women at all.
“I’d tell my brother to get the hell away from someone who’s hostile, mean, and aggressive to him.
“Once someone treats you like that verbally, the next thing, he’ll be putting his hands on him.”
Ellie – You’re right that she should tell him about the groping, and warn that his boyfriend’s behaviour towards him warrants breaking up.
However, the groping was a power grab, not sexual attraction. Your generalization about gay men doesn’t apply here and isn’t factually true.
Meanwhile, telling her brother with the guy present could create an even more hostile, physically dangerous situation.
Tip of the day:
Managing the technology in your personal life is an ongoing process.