Now that I am home again I have once again relegated my cell phone and all the services it provides back to office hours. It reminds me of the changing roll of the phone.
Growing up my family had only one line and one phone. It was in the living room. No phones in teens bedrooms. We were not allowed to answer the phone when the family was eating dinner. As a teenager it was torturous as my teen years were pre-answering machine. But those were the house rules and looking back they worked just fine.
Last week I was on the road and I was available via cell phone and text all week. I must say it was nice, as folks could reach me with cancellations, and other updates on attendance. Though I was out of my office, I wasn’t. Not all my work at home was piling up. In the old days many of the callers would have been no shows for the conference we were holding. My cell phone also allowed me while working the conference registration office to easily reach my boss who was out working the conference floor. Cell phones also allowed folks to easily reach one another rather depend on me to be message central for all the attendees many of whom I did not know.
Driving up to the conference we had an accident and ended up in the ditch. Almost instantly we were in contact with 911 and the insurance agent. Another example of what good things can come of cell phones everywhere.
On the flip side is the changes in the feeling that we have to be available to the phone at all times. Today at work I found myself with on one phone, with call waiting telling me another person was trying to reach me and the president of my organization calling me on the cell line. I found myself distracted from the person I was talking with as I looked at caller ID to see who else was wanting my attention. We will answer the cell phone in the middle of a conversation with people we are with. We will go out to dinner with folks and spend time texting and talking on our phones. It seems like idiocy to spend all that money to eat in a restaurant with our friends and yet not really be there. I recently hear of folks stacking their phones in the middle of a table when at restaurants and the first person to “have to” use their phone picks up the tab. Sounds good to me.
In my quest for a more balanced lifestyle I am vowing to not answer the phone once we sit down for meals. I am not going to answer my cell when I am in a conversation with others; I might even turn it off when we eat out to remove that temptation. We all need downtime and being tethered to our phones is not necessary or good. I plan to be in control of my phone use and not let my phone control me.