There I was, having a nice conversation with a colleague I had not seen in a while. Then it happened… a classic case of device interruption. I got a notification through my smartwatch. Reflexively I turned my wrist for just a brief glance. It could have been an appointment reminder, a weather channel alert or even the notification that I made my steps for the day). It didn’t matter. That slight twist of the wrist and glance down killed the conversation.
Almost immediately she said, “I’m interrupting you.” Conversation over. I quickly said “no it’s just a text,” but I knew we were done. I felt like I had done something wrong. Afterward, I could not shake the feeling that I had been rude.
We’ve fully transitioned to the point where nearly everyone has a smartphone. Every other article we read (on and about devices) warns of overuse. We’re connected like never before. We know where our teenagers are 24/7, can bank from the pool, respond to customers in just about every channel they prefer, text, email, snapchat, etc. So, why are we often disconnected?
Look around the line at the post office or a doctor’s waiting room. WiFi has been the glue that keeps us connected…and the solvent that keeps us separated. We’re losing the art of conversation. The opportunity to engage with the person next to you, to learn from them and make a human connection. Don’t read this as yet another rant on the dangers of self-isolation. I’m bucking those AARP applications and I have always loved my technology. I miss my StarTac flip and I was on the bleeding edge of the Palm Pilot. There just needs to be some balance.
Have a conversation with those around you. Ask if they are reading anything cool. You can text them later how much you enjoyed the conversation. I was always the guy at the grocery store that would start a conversation with the person that forgot to take off the hello my name is name tag. (my kids quickly blended into the frozen foods or worse ran the other direction. Trailing voices echoed, Dad, really?!
Do you have a similar story? Have a good rant? Share with us hear or better yet, arrange a time to meet in person.