Best way to stay connected is to unplug

I love buzz words, or the ones that people use to let everyone know they are top of the latest trends.

It is especially true when it comes to technology. Everyone seems to be looking to become a Steve Jobs wannabe. So I am surprised that the world isn’t full of tons of people walking around wearing black turtle necks and pants.

Instead of wearing the Jobs attire they adapt the skill of coming up with the favorite catch phrases that they pass out like candy at Halloween. When people tell me they “need to stay connected” I hear a silent moan instantly inside my head.

What that usually amounts to in today’s world is their hand doesn’t end with their fingers — it ends with their cell phone that essentially never leaves their hand. People who essentially can’t put two words together in a verbal sentence have thick calloused fingers from texting non-stop throughout the day.

The late actor/National Rifle Association member Charlton Heston may have made famous the words “from my cold dead hands” when talking about prying a gun out of them, but it could easily apply to soccer moms, teenagers and millions of others with their phones.

It also adds new meaning to the old phrase, “the silent majority” as that is what the world has become — millions of people not talking to each other, but texting instead.

Recently I attended a meeting with about 25 people and saw something that amazed me.

At one point I counted eight people not listening to what the speaker was saying, but texting on their phone under the table. The odds are good that if the speaker would have texted the people in that room they probably would have paid closer attention to what was being said.

In the Wild West it used to be “check your guns at the door,” but in today’s endless world of meetings the better response would be to “shut off your phones at the door.” Either that or make all the tables out of plexi glass, so you can see through them when the “texting bandits” are at work.

Some have it down to a science. There is one group I like to refer to as the smiley nodder. They have their phone firmly planted in their hands under the table and they keep looking up periodically to smile and nod like they are paying attention, but they don’t have a clue what is being said.

Then there are what I like to call the “one-arm bandits.” These are the people who half cover their phone on their desk and they gaze down at the hand-out sheets given in the meeting and text one handed.

It has gone so far that people can be seen looking at their phone and texting in church. Wouldn’t you just love to send them receive an anonymous text at that time saying “This is God, pay attention!”

It used to be said that a firm handshake and maintaining eye contact was a great way to make a good first impression. In today’s world it is more important to have enough bars and strong cell service.

One of my many fears is that teenagers of today will become known as the “top of the head generation” because that is all you see of them as the walk and text. Their necks will become permanently bent toward the ground in the future.

Besides that, it’s dangerous. I have actually witnessed them nearly get hit by walking into a busy street while texting.  I saw a texter walk into the back end of parked car because they weren’t paying attention.

What drives me nuts is there are people I work with who are constantly texting even when you are talking to them. To rub even more salt in the wound they start laughing midway through one of your sentences even when it is isn’t funny.

Connected?  No. Rude? Yes.

Makes me want to say would you prefer I text you instead of walking six feet to your desk and actually talking to you like a human being.

We all have witnessed the four kids sitting in booth at a fast food restaurant, and they all have a phone out texting. Come on people, admit it, you are really hoping they aren’t talking to each other on those phones.

Another one is you see a young couple out on a date and they both are texting on phones. Makes me want to say… would the two of you like to be alone — you and your phone?

Over the past few years I have pretty much saw people texting from skateboards, bicycles, and going 80 miles per hour down the freeway while driving with their knees. There are many people who have tested the waterproof capability of their phone while texting on the toilet — bombs away.

On top of that the fact that everyone uses abbreviations instead of words. At this rate the Webster’s Dictionary of the future may only be a page and a half long instead of the eight inch thick old time versions.

Yet the amazing thing is in their effort “to stay connected” most of them know less what is going on because much of what they text is nonsense.

So I just hope everyone will keep on “lol” until I … see you next Wednesday.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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