We've become annoying, rude and antisocial with our phones and tablets
Set ground rules when friends begin filming; anything can go viral
Sticking to your smartphone screen keeps you from having creative a ha! moments
It almost goes without saying: No texting while drunk
We begin this week’s column with a stunningly beautiful quote from Anais Nin (brought to our attention by the inimitable site Brainpickings). Read it slowly because it’s that good.
(Yes, we’re enculturating you in Netiquette. We can hear the shouty, complainy e-mails already.)
“The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow. … This thought has made me more and more attentive to all encounters, meetings, introductions, which might contain the seed of depth that might be carelessly overlooked.
“This feeling has become a rarity, and rarer every day now that we have reached a hastier and more superficial rhythm, now that we believe we are in touch with a greater amount of people, more people, more countries. This is the illusion which might cheat us of being in touch deeply with the one breathing next to us. The dangerous time when mechanical voices, radios, telephones, take the place of human intimacies, and the concept of being in touch with millions brings a greater and greater poverty in intimacy and human vision.”
Nin wrote those words in 1946, but she might as well have been writing them today. She starts with a YOLO and ends with a contemporary-sounding rumination of just how horrible we’ve all become now that we hold the power to be in touch with millions of people in the palms of our hands.
That’s right, we’re talking about how annoying and rude and antisocial we’ve all become with our smartphones and tablets. As CNN investigates all the ways mobile devices are changing our lives, we’d like to peel our eyes off our glowing screens long enough to recount our top eight egregious handheld errors.
These are things you literally could not do before the www went mobile; now we’re embarrassing ourselves all over the place. Please stop:
1. Drunk -tweeting, -texting, -Instagramming, etc.
Long gone are the days when the only witnesses to your inebriated ramblings were other bar patrons who also saw you stumble from your bar stool to the ground. Whether you’re able to keep it together with spelling and syntax (in which case, you’ve just got the world going, “Wait, she wants to do WHAT to Paul Ryan?!”), or your typing skills erode quickly, alcohol and mobile devices don’t mix.
2. Fooling around on your phone whenever you have a spare moment.
As writer Austin Kleon writes in his alarmingly cute book, “Steal Like an Artist,” we need unstructured time for creativity to foster, down time in which we mess around and let our disconnected thoughts gel into cool ideas.
If you turn every spare moment (a red light, a line at the salad station, a ride in the elevator) into an excuse to check your Cinemagram feed, you just won’t have those artistic a ha! moments. (And no, “Draw Something” doesn’t count.)
3. Passive-aggressively whining for the whole world to see.
Look, we all have our personal stock of First World Problems, frustrated complaints with the minor injustices committed by a cruel, uncaring world. That’s been true since the dawn of time. Now we just have myriad means of expressing them.
Nobody cares about your thinly veiled railings against your ex or roommate or employer, OK? Unless you’ve scribbled it on a notepad, in which case you should share it with the world. So that we can laugh at you.
4. Being really, really scared to actually use the phone.
Phones and tablets have made it oh so easy to communicate without using our voiceboxes. This is bad for relationships for oh so many reasons. Anais Nin would just hate it. Hit “dial” and enjoy the time-honored pas de deux of two humans, you know, talking.
5. Missing your favorite band’s concert because you’re so busy taking crappy photos, letting your phone ring and fiddling with your phone during the set.
Your hard-of-hearing, reformed punk-rock uncle was right: Concerts really WERE better back in the day, not necessarily because music really meant something, man, but because the audience actually paid attention and sang along and danced instead of holding their phones in the air and spending 30-plus seconds trying to find the shutter button on the front of the screen.
Your punkle would be so disappointed if he still made it out to shows today.
6. Texting salacious pictures.
The ritual sharing of NC-17 photos used to be a complicated analog affair involving Polaroids and furtive looks. Nowadays, people just drop trou, snap and send. Analyze THAT, Anais Nin.
7. Turning your friends into enemies with videos of them.
Camcorders have become tiny and discreet and as user-friendly as checking your e-mail. This is potentially bad news for those people you hang out with, as you hold in your hands a recording device that can humiliate them forever.
Set ground rules and roll the camera judiciously, lest you wind up publicly shaming a friend for her foul mouth, caught-on-film fart or unpopular political opinions.
8. Letting your seething anger leach out into the world at large.
Humans have always done stupid things when they’re emotionally riled up. Now, those tantrums and rages and outbursts are shared and cached for the world to see. Take a deep breath and put down the smartphone.
9. Texting while walking.
Rarely does this go well. Whatever’s so urgent can probably wait a few minutes. Or you can, you know, actually call the person (see No. 4).
10. Using your phone in the bathroom.
Don’t. Just don’t.