alone together etiquette

Ever since I read Alone Together last Spring, my husband and I use Turkle’s book title to describe moments like these, especially when we’re out to eat and I’m tweeting or texting someone.

A friend of mine posted this image on Facebook with the caption, “For my bosses at work.” He works at a management consulting firm, not on a laptop campus like I do, but this led me to wonder about a committee meeting I was at a few weeks ago.

Instead of printing out documents or carrying my laptop with me, I only brought my iPhone and accessed the documents from it. While there were plenty of people at the meeting with laptops and iPads, I felt self-concious after a few minutes because I wondered if people thought I was texting or checking Facebook. For this reason, I made consistent eye contact with whomever was speaking and also kept my iPhone screen visible to anyone near me so they knew I was only looking at meeting-related documents.

Who knows, perhaps no one even noticed, but as the youngest and newest person on this committee, I had to wonder what people might be thinking. What would you have thought about a person reading from his/her phone? Do you work in places where the laptop or Ipad might be more accepted at a meeting than an iPhone or Blackberry? Or does it even matter since we know what Smartphones are capable of these days?

Posted on November 7, 2011, in mobile, Society, Workplace. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. This picture is so common today. I see people sitting together, and even talking to each other, but also splitting their attention between the person in front of them and the ones they connect to electronically. This brings up two thoughts:

    1. My oldest daughter cannot be 2 feet from her phone and even sleeps with it in her hand to hear a vibration in case someone texts her. I am seeing a trend here. Lucy and Desi sleep in separate beds ….. I sleep in the same bed as my husband ….. today’s couple may sleep in the same bed, but they are connecting to their entire network in the process. Does this qualify as a “techno-orgy?” – *note, I am talking about participant numbers and location, not necessarily the intimate act itself…. although my family does turn Jerry Springer on from time to time.

    2. EVERY SINGLE WEEK on the trip up to Stevens Point and back again to pick up and deliver our daughter to College, I see people texting while driving. On Sunday because of the time change, it was dark. This made it so easy to spot these offenders because they had their overhead lights on and were looking down between their legs. I am sure this had nothing to do with the above-mentioned “techno-orgy” – but it could easily end lives. Why do we let this happen?

    It is one thing to be connected – another to be an idiot. Some people’s alone-together connection has passed up rude about 30 miles back, it is now just plain stupid.

  2. I couldn’t find the link to the actual study, but there was a 2010 survey done at Stanford about students being addicted to their iPhones, sleeping with it and naming it, etc. Here are some of the numbers: 74 percent of students surveyed said they ‘felt cool” when they got an iPhone, but more importantly, a quarter of surveyed students said their iPhones felt like “an extension of their brain or their being.”

    With that said, your final point here is very well stated. I don’t even make phone calls in the car anymore, mainly because there are dead spots along the Interstate between here and the Twin Cities, and I hate having to make 3 calls for 1 conversation.

  3. Interesting post! I’m the exact opposite than the man in that that cartoon – I shut my phone off when I’m out – and I’m not saying that as a go-me statement, it’s actually to a fault. There’s no other way of reaching me in case of an emergency and I’m notorious at not returning calls that I receive while I’m with someone else. Then again, I don’t have a smart phone, so that could be part of it.

    As someone in a younger generation, it wouldn’t offend me to see someone on their Smart Phone at a conference but I can see how those from an older generation could misunderstand what you’re using your phone for. I think it’s a matter of time before it becomes more socially acceptable.

  4. I stumbled across this interesting article today:

    http://www.channel3000.com/nationalnews/29723461/detail.html

    The article is titled: Study: New Grads Prefer Facebook, Freedom Over Salary

    I find it interesting that we are looking at a generation that values social networking over salary. On the other hand, I am in a position to totally relate to the desire to work from home and remotely. This is how I work every day.

    • This goes hand-in-hand with Qualman (p. 223), that the under-30 generation want careers that allow freedom to –like working odd hours or at home. I appreciate having some flexibility in choosing my hours (like 7-4, 8-5, or 9-6) or the ability to work from home on my work laptop once in a while.

  5. This goes hand-in-hand with Qualman (p. 223), that the under-30 generation want careers that allow freedom to –like working odd hours or at home. I appreciate having some flexibility in choosing my hours (like 7-4, 8-5, or 9-6) or the ability to work from home on my work laptop once in a while.

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