A friend of mine was telling me about a blind date he was on recently. He was sitting across from the girl, trying his best to make her laugh with his funniest anecdote. It was proving to be an uphill battle, though, because she kept glancing down at the smartphone that she was holding in one hand to balance the wine glass in the other. So he was relieved when, as he reached the punchline, she burst out laughing. His relief was short-lived, though. She turned the screen of her smartphone towards him.
“Look at this, it’s hilarious”
While he’d been doing his best to amuse her, she’d been watching a funny clip on YouTube.
I haven’t had that exact situation, personally, but I’ve certainly been in situations where I felt that I was in competition with a smartphone and that I was losing the battle. I have to admit, too, that I’ve sometimes been the culprit. I could be having coffee with a friend and my smartphone beeps. Even if I resist the urge to look and see what the notification is, part of my mind is distracted by wondering who or what the beep was about.
I’ve been mulling it over and I’ve come to the conclusion that the problem lies in the lack of rules around smartphone etiquette. As children most people are taught about good manners – holding the door open for someone who arrives there at the same time as you or standing in line without jumping the queue. Even such things as the rules about how to eat politely without making a mess are passed on from parents to children, in most cases. The problem with smartphones is that they didn’t exist when we were children so there was no etiquette to pass down. The technology is practically brand new and the social media phenomenon is even newer. It strikes me, therefore, that some rules that we can agree upon – about what is acceptable and what is simply rude – would be a very useful thing right now.
So, I’m launching a campaign. #LOTI stands for Log Out, Tune In. What I’m suggesting is that we should be able to post “Going for coffee with a friend #LOTI” and then feel free to put our phone on flight mode because we’ve let the world know that, for the next little while, we’re not online because we’re taking some quality one-on-one. So, when I go up to spend time with my Mum, who gets quite irritated when someone is distracted by their technology, I’ll post “Visiting Mum #LOTI” and people will know not to get upset if I don’t post ‘happy birthday’ to them on Facebook. It’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I’m not online being told what to do and when to do it (God help me, I’ll have to start remembering birthdays again unaided by technology).
I’ll be interested to know what you guys think. In the meantime , thanks to the folks at unsplash.com, I’ve got hold of some photos and branded them and I’ve done up a jpg with the #LOTI logo for use by all and sundry. It’d be fab if you felt up to sharing the idea and getting this thing going so that we can start feeling that we’re using technology instead of it using us. Well, for now, I’m signing off to go read a book or something similarly old-school. #LOTI