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Editor's Note: Choosing a real life over an electronic one

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013 10:23 a.m. CDT

Ever heard of phubbing? If you haven’t heard the word, you’ve probably seen the behavior. If you have a smartphone, you might even be guilty of it.

Phubbing is a contraction of “phone snubbing,” and describes the behavior of ignoring the people you are physically with while you interact with your cell phone or other device. It’s common, and it’s rude, and I’ve probably done it at least once.

It’s hard to ignore that chime or buzz that means a message is waiting. But when we jump to check it, we’re basically communicating to the person we’re with that we’re only in this until something better comes along.

I love my smartphone, but I do have certain rules: no pausing in a real conversation to check social media, for example. If I’m sitting on the couch with my husband watching TV, I can check it; if we’re talking, I can’t. And no electronics at the dinner table.

But it’s so easy to bend rules, isn’t it? I met my brother for coffee the other day and broke my own rule by taking my phone out of my pocket and putting it on the tabletop. I wasn’t wearing a watch, and had to keep an eye on the time so I wasn’t late to my next appointment, but just laying it there made me feel sheepish and rude.

And when parents at the park are watching their screens instead of the swings, or couples on a date are sitting across the table from one another, texting furiously with someone else, well, that’s just kind of sad.

As technology marches forward, you know things will only get worse. Gadgets like Google Glass are making it ever easier to live in a virtual world even while we’re moving in physical space.

At the same time, manners are falling out of fashion – whether the two are connected is debatable, but they certainly support one another. I saw a raging debate online recently over whether couples should have to send thank-you notes for wedding gifts, with some people calling the practice “archaic” and “stupid” and accusing gift givers of being selfish for expecting one.

If we’re really entering a time when giving thanks is considered outdated and unnecessary, then I can only expect phone snubbing to soon be the least of our problems.

So I’m making a new pledge and invite you to make it with me: when given the choice between interacting with a device or a person, I will choose the person. I will say “please” and “thank you” and will teach my children to do the same. I will not become so caught up in virtual worlds that I miss the amazing, fleeting life all around me.

Enjoy your MidWeek.

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CORRECTIONS

The listing for the Open Air Market and Car Show in Kirkland in the Sept. 4 Town Crier was incomplete. The market is from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.; the car show is from 3 to 7 p.m. The MidWeek regrets the error.

Due to incorrect information provided to The  MidWeek, the date of the Sycamore Brown Bag lunch in Town Crier and “Remembering the local drive-in” in the Aug. 28 edition was incorrect. The event was held Sept. 5.

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