Monday, July 27, 2009

How cell phones can hamper your relationships

The first time that I really became concerned about the impact of cell phones on relationships was one night when my wife and I were having dinner in a local restaurant. Julia and I were having a conversation when a woman in her late fifties and a young girl about 10 years old (that we presumed was her granddaughter) were seated at a table near us. The grandmother was on her cell phone when they were seated, she was on her cell phone when they ordered, and she was on her cell phone throughout the entire meal. She never spoke to the young girl even once during the time that we were there, which was at least another half hour. I couldn't help but wonder if she was bragging to the person with whom she was talking on her cell phone that she was having dinner with her granddaughter? That 10 year old girl might as well have been sitting at a table by herself.

I've seen moms and dads pushing their kids in strollers, paying no attention to the child but happily chatting away on their cell phones. I've watched parents talk on their cell phones in lieu of interacting with their kids on the playground or in the grocery store. I've seen adults engaged in conversation on their cell phone while their companion sits in silence.

Let's get a couple of things out of the way:
  1. I do have a cell phone
  2. I don't believe that cell phones are inherently evil.
That being said, I do think that cell phones are far less the miracle of communication that some people would have us believe. Cell phones are useful but they can also be an obstacle to our relationship with others when they interfere with healthy, face-to-face conversation. When someone offers me their most precious commodity, their time, I think they deserve my attention, as well.

How can you and I strike a balance between functionality and misuse of cell phones?

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