Posted on May 1 in ST!R Stories

Keeping Your Social Life Social

This topic was a request (my first! I blush…) from a Twitter follower, asking me to muse about how to keep personal and professional lives separate in this age of technology.

Often when I go out these days, I see tablesful of people who, having chosen their restaurant, made their reservations and sent invites via their devices, don’t put them down when they’re finally together in person. They’re tweeting or letting you know where to find them in case you want to join the fun via FourSquare. They’re taking photos of their food for their Instagram feed and offering decided opinions on the food and service via Yelp!, all while sitting with real live people who are often doing the same thing! Why bother to get together when you are just going to spend that precious time obsessed with your iPhone? There appears to be little to no separation between work and play, but devices have taken center stage.

What do I think about that? I think it’s a tragedy, not just because talking with real people is funny and interesting and takes you places Google Maps never will, but because it’s personal. It bonds you with new friends. It creates memories and changes perspectives. You can agree, disagree, or agree to disagree. Siri always tells you what you want to hear.

So some thoughts on returning to a simpler, more courteous, device-segregated world:

  • At work, use all the technology you want. Learn to use NEW technology—heck, that makes you more marketable. But mute and put it down in a meeting.
  • Bosses, that goes for you too—you know who you are, keeping folks waiting while you “just take a second” to text your buddy about lunch. That’s rude, even if you ARE the boss. If you’re not the boss, well, use technology to polish up that resume because no boss likes having HIS OR HER time wasted any more than you do.
  • When you’re out of the office in your REAL life, use your technology more judiciously.
  • Now, I understand live tweeting with friends and strangers about the newest, most exciting episode of your fave show ever if you’re by yourself. But why not have a viewing party at your place instead?
  • Out with a friend? No smartphone! Focus on your lunch partner. Turn the ringer down or at least put your device facedown on the table. If you can’t be away from it for the hour it takes to relax over a meal, you should have declined the invitation. I had a friend who took calls throughout our lunch date, finally stepping outside so she could hear. I had her meal boxed and handed it to her on my way out. It’s simple etiquette that the person in front of you takes precedence over the person on the line.
  • It should go without saying that texting on a date is a pretty sure way to go home early and kiss-less.
  • Of course there always are times in your personal life to use your tech. Where once a letter took weeks to get to friends far away, now a few keystrokes and it’s like you’re there. But always know when to put the tools away. I gave my son a dictionary the other day and made him look up words he doesn’t know, just like I did as a kid. We snuggle on a couch and learn funny new words that make his mind and conversation richer, which I’ll take over a Google search any day.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Do you think you have a pretty good balance between your on- and off-line lives? How do you do it? By all means, use that device and email me!

  • Fred Peters

    Well said Margaret. Part of the problem is that many people believe reacting instantly to every prompt on their mobile phone gives an impression of importance or of being in control. The impression it gives me is that of being unorganized or unprepared. Few of those calls or texts are calling people in to perform or help in an emergency surgery.

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