Commentary

February 14, 2013

Put down the phone, pick up a conversation

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Commentary by Senior Airman Timothy Moore
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Timothy Moore
Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see people messaging on their cell phones while in social settings. This can often lead to a person becoming disconnected with those around him. So, put down the phone and pick up a conversation.

Albert Einstein said, “I fear the day when the technology overlaps with our humanity. The world will only have a generation of idiots.”

I first saw this quote one day on a social networking site, and it was accompanied by several photos of people sitting in social settings with one or more people messaging on their phones. These people were at the beach, dinner, sporting events, and even the museum. Yet, they were on their phones. One picture showed a group of people in a convertible in which even the driver had her phone out. I think these people could be considered the idiots Einstein was talking about.

I do not consider these people idiots in the sense that they are stupid, but they are foolish. They are foolish in that technology has become more important than their humanity, which is defined as being marked by compassion, sympathy, or consideration for others. In that respect, many people are foolish as they show little or no consideration for others when they are on their phones in social settings.

I remember my adult family members reprimanding me for trying to watch TV while sitting at a dinner table, being on the phone when company was over or being rude in any social situation. That is what this situation is becoming. People are being rude.

Now, I understand that phones have become much more than a way to contact people, and I am not solely talking about cell phones as the only offending technology here. They are just the ones I see most at fault in this type of situation. I understand many people use their phones for checking emails, paying bills, texting, when calling is just not acceptable for one or both parties, and many other things. However, when those other things are not time sensitive or can just wait and you are in the company of other people, please be considerate and put down your phone. Put down your phone, have a conversation with the people around you, and get to know them.

Until very recently, I was becoming one of those foolish people Einstein was talking about. I would go to the Loft here on D-M to socialize with other Airmen in the dormitories, and I would end up on my phone sitting in my own little world. Then one Sunday at the Loft dinner, a person noted that out of 10 or so people sitting in the room seven, including me, were on their phones. I looked at those other individuals, and even though I had seen all of them multiple times at the Loft, I did not even know their names.

So, I started the process of putting my phone away more and talking to people, and I have been pleased with the results so far. I have had some great conversations. I have talked about things ranging from favorite childhood shows to working out. I have even started working out on a regular basis with some of those Airmen I have had conversations with.

I now know some of these Airmen’s quirks. I can sense when something is amiss with them, and I hope through more conversations that I can become more aware of that.

I hope that through these conversations, and the interactions that result from them, I can develop the lifelong friends I hear about so often at retirement ceremonies. I hope they will help me become not only a better human being, but also a better wingman.




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