Nov 29, 2008

Social Networking Behavior - Are You Rude Too?

I'm often horrified by people's public use of the cell phone as it's original intent, a talking device. We've all had, to one extent or another, aggravating experiences at the mercy of poor cell phone manners.

Perhaps you're one of them! As far as I'm concerned, the following examples are rude and there are countless other social cell phone situations not mentioned here that scream poor etiquette. Shame on you!
  • You're having a conversation with someone, their phone rings ... dead in its tracks, your conversation halts while they address the obviously more important incoming matter.
  • You're in the supermarket and the person in front of you is taking forever to checkout because they can't hold the cellphone, dig out their credit card, and swipe their payment all at the same time.
  • You're in a restaurant and your neighbor at the adjoining table is so loud that you've now learned more about their personal life than you would have ever cared to have known.
Compounding matters, the basic cell phone has evolved into countless variations of what we now call the "smart phone" (iPhone, Blackberry, Treo, etc.). They're here, they're here to stay, and it will become increasingly more difficult to remain competitive and efficient in our business spaces without using one.

From the palm of our hands, we now get to merge our online world with the real world. To be quite honest, for those of us already immersed in both worlds, the two are no longer mutually exclusive.

Helping to join this divide, Twitter, amongst many social networking tools, has definitely become a major component of our day to day networking activities. With only so much time in the day, in an attempt to remain productive, of course we Twitter via TwitterBerry on our Blackberry. No problem, right?

So, it's Thanksgiving. We're all done eating, some family is still gathered around the dinner table, others are in the front room, and I'm in the family room loosely watching the young ones run around. All is well, kids are playing nice, conversations are going on, no-one is missing me, it's time for a minute or two, perhaps three, of Twitter.

At the end of the evening, I'm having a conversation with my mother-in-law, mom, and wife and the conversation morphs into a discussion of my father-in-law and his recent obsession with his new Blackberry Storm. "People, especially the younger generation, are always on their phones, they can't seem to ever put them down!" Mind you, my father-in-law's obsession is more so due to the learning curve as opposed to having to stay connected, while my obsession comes from wanting to stay connected.

As the conversation continues, out of nowhere, all eyes converge on me and I'm asked, "Is it really that important to have to be 'playing' on the Blackberry on Thanksgiving?"

My first thought, "Playing?" And then my response was, "Well, this group is talking, that group is playing cards, they're playing Dominoes. Why single me out? What's the big deal? We're all doing different things, having a good time, enjoying ourselves."

They're response, "Everyone else is spending time with each other while you're solely engaged by waves emanating from your Blackberry."


I must admit, a bit embarrassing and even more so as I've become increasingly self-conscious of my actions as I'm finding myself more absorbed and constantly searching for a moment to take a peak, to stay connected.

If these tools are a major facet of our business operations and the tool naturally creates this type of give a bleep here, a tweet there behavior, what is one to do? How will our social interactions be shaped?

For now, I've become one of those individuals ... I'm not holding up the line because I'm talking; I'm holding up the line because I haven't noticed it move, since I'm too busy silently connecting. Different actions and now realizing same rude results.

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