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Saturday, June 18, 2016


I was doing a blood run this afternoon ...

A mother was crossing the busy street with her little child in tow, ear glued to her cellphone.  

She walked right in front of an oncoming vehicle.

Luckily for the child, the driver was more alert than the mother.

We are the addicted society.

We are willingly slipping into an impersonal way of living and wondering why we feel so alone.

We go to a social gathering, and everyone has their nose glued to their smartphones.  

We do not experience the world around us.

We walk with eyes wide shut.  We talk with ears on mute, with hearts shielded in cyber-armor.

Four-fifths of my department use what they call VOX when communicating to others in our department.

Sometimes they have to ask clarification questions when if they simply TALKED TO the other person over the phone, 

no questions would have had to be asked and the transaction would have been much shorter.

I asked each of them why.  

Same answer.  "I don't like to talk to people.  On VOX, I ask a question, and I get a recorded answer."

Doing this harms us.

 Having a conversation with another person teaches us to, in effect, have a conversation with ourselves — 

to think and reason and self-reflect. 

That particular skill is a bedrock of development. 

 Take the texted apology ... “saying ‘I’m sorry’ and hitting send”

 Here what’s lost when we type instead of speak. 

A full-scale apology means I know I’ve hurt you, I get to see that in your eyes.

You get to see that I’m uncomfortable, and with that, the compassion response kicks in. 

There are many steps and they’re all bypassed when we text. 

When the apology takes place over the phone rather than in person, the visual cues are lost, of course, 

but the voice — and the sense of hurt and contrition it can convey — is preserved. 

Part of the appeal of texting in these situations is that it’s less painful — 

but that pain is the point. 

The complexity and messiness of human communication gets shortchanged.

Those things are what lead to better relationships.

We are becoming conversation-avoidant — mostly because it’s easier. 

Texting an obligatory birthday greeting means you don’t have to fake an enthusiasm you’re not really feeling. 

 Texting a friend to see what time a party starts 

means you don’t also have to ask “How are you?” and, worse, get an answer.

Too much texting amounts to a life of “hiding in plain sight."

And the thing about hiding is, it keeps you entirely alone.



  1. Hi Roland - couldn't agree more ... my phone usually waits for me at home - cheers Hilary

    1. The smartphone is blunting our ability to converse meaningfully I believe. Morning, Hilary. :-)

  2. I prefer talking to texting. Too bad so many don't.

    1. Me, too, David. I do not text or Vox. My co-workers actually have to TALK to me. :-)

  3. The more connected we become, the further apart we drift. I'll text when I don't want to interrupt the person when they are in the middle of something or at work. I do like to use my phone for what it was intended though - a phone.

  4. Disconnecting from the personal for the virtual seems the preferred state of most people. Asimov predicted this in one of his stories where the people inhabiting the planet Solaria (I think that's the name) preferred contact via screens, not liking to touch or meet in person. . .Much of the addiction to smartphones can be traced back to conforming to social media requirements.