Technology, specifically cell phones, take the blame for a lot of things these days. The assumptions people make regarding mobile device usage can be very irritating. Usually people assume negative intent or behaviors when individuals are on their phone, such as that they are distracted or not paying attention. I love this meme (found on Twitter) poking fun at the claim that technology makes us antisocial:
Two examples that come to mind:
- A professor scolding (and embarrassing) a student on a phone during a small group discussion, when in reality the individual was googling material related to the conversation to help answer questions of other group members.
- Someone who uses a phone app to track their workouts at the gym and another gym patron commenting on their phone usage in a negative way.
Have you ever found yourself judging or thinking negative thoughts about someone that is on their phone? How would those 2 situations be different if the individuals were using paper and pencil? Would they receive different reactions?
…I think they would. People can just as easily not be paying attention if they are day-dreaming, drawing, reading a book, or writing a to-do list on paper. I want to challenge you not to assume negative intent if you see someone on a mobile device. I am also challenging myself to be more cautious about my assumptions. It is true that phones can be tools of distraction (in class, in meetings, etc) but they can also be tools for success. My iPhone does the same thing as my iPad, but often phones are seen as less productive than tablets or paper. If you are unsure or think someone is not paying attention, ask questions about their phone usage next time instead of automatically assuming they are distracted.