I’ve always thought it was ironic when smokers “go out for a breath of fresh air”.
Recently, I found myself sympathizing with the plight of the proverbial smoker when I came under heavy fire from my friends for answering my iPhone email in front of them. So I left the company of friends to go outside and communicate with people by myself.
Having skipped many of Shane’s important emails in my attempts to skim read, I came to realize that I need a better system for checking my email in social settings. Checking my email while in the presence of my friends, my family, or especially my wife is a great way to misread emails AND piss off the people I’m with. It’s like missing two birds with one stone.
So I asked my wife, Lindsey, how she thinks I can approach consistently checking my email while not annoying the people around me. She suggested that I go on “iPhone smoke breaks”, occasionally leaving the group to check my email.
Brilliant! In the same counter intuitive way that I can improve my life by writing a “hate list”, I can consistently check my email AND avoid annoying everyone around me by modeling my iPhone habits on those of a smoker.
It’s like a Weight Watchers program: I can check my mail as regularly as I need. I just have to learn not to do it in the middle of offering my condolences at a funeral. Or not to do it when my Lindsey is in the middle of telling me all about the struggles of her day. And I especially need to remember not to peek at my email while driving or operating heavy machinery.
Basically, I can check my email and talk on my phone all I want as long as I do it somewhere else.
What’s Your Tale Nightingale?
When cigarettes where at the height of their popularity in America in the 50s (at the time when doctors recommended cigarettes and you could just about smoke in any room of any building), there was little or no consideration for non-smokers. Over time, we, as a society, have come to appreciate the fact that smoke can be offensive to non-smokers, and smokers are starting to be outnumbered.
As I see it, hand-held devices are approaching the point that cigarettes were at in the 50s. People are talking everywhere, and checking SMS and email messages at all hours of the day. It’s gotten to a point where theaters, airplanes, and doctor’s offices all ask you to silence your cellphones. Pretty soon there will be laws that prohibit the use of cellphones within 20 feet of any public building… Or, perhaps it won’t go that far, but you know what I’m saying.
Viva La Revolucion!
I am proposing a PDA revolution of etiquette. A revolution where we learn to consider those around us who get tired of wondering if you are schizophrenic or if you are talking into a bluetooth earpiece on the other side of your face. A revolution where we choose to pay attention to the people who are physically close to us, even if they are strangers. A revolution where, like a closet smoker, we hide our habit.
It is so great that my PDA effectively makes me cybernetically telepathic. I can basically “call” my friend on the other side of the planet and no matter where she is, if she is willing to answer, she will be able to share thoughts with me. That’s awesome. Literally… I am in awe of it. And the people sitting next to me at the cafe are in awe of the total disregard I have as I shout into my headset for an hour.
For the sake of my wife, my friends, my clients, my business partner, my colleagues, and the strangers I am standing next to, I’ll be right back.Â I’m going to go get some fresh air.