How many times in the last, say, week, have you sat down with a friend and they leave their laptop or iPhone out, with Twitter rolling across the screen?
How many panels, speakers or meetings have you attended where either you, or the person two seats down, sent texts, tweets and emails during?
How flattered to you feel when someone puts their phone or computer away to talk to you?
Some time ago, having dinner with a guy, I realized that I was on a date. You know why? I put my computer away and he put his iPhone down. We made dinner. We watched a movie. We talked. It was really nice.
Disconnecting together, with another person, is one of my favorite things. It even has it’s own name now: “face-time.” Twenty years ago, you just saw your friends and business associates. Now you have face-time.
There was a time when looking constantly at your phone during a meeting or while having a drink with your friend was considered the ultimate in rudeness. Now, while at the bar I see friends pulling out their iPhones. You know what I do when I see them flipping through Tweetie? I ask, “Anything interesting going on?” With my friends who I know are cool about it, I’ll even peek over their shoulder.
When people in congress started tweeting the State of the Union the “Media” got their panties in a bunch over the whole thing because “no one was paying attention to the President.”
This week, while sitting in the Social Fresh keynote, sitting on the floor because the room was packed with over 200 people, I heard a lot of clicking. I had my laptop open and the #SoFresh tag refreshing on my screen. It was fascinating to sit and listen to a presentation and see the live feedback of all the other smart people in the room.
I had a meeting with Jeff Elder yesterday. I was wondering why he was late. He sent me a direct message saying basically “I’m here,” which suggested I was in the wrong place. I was. Thankfully, Twitter saved our meeting – why? Because he saw I was at the computer and clearly not where I was supposed to be. (In my hurry, I’d picked the wrong place.)
I’ve got a hundred other little examples like these. I’m sure you do to. Even if you don’t use Twitter – there’s Facebook and similar applications. Technology, and how we’re integrating it into our socialization, is changing the way we function in our world and how we connect with each other.
We’re still working out the new rules of etiquette and healthy disconnection. I had to suggest, gently or not so gently, to a couple people at SoFresh that maybe they didn’t need to use their phone during their chair massage. I only let Ty Downing, because it had become a joke at this point, and he tweeted it.
How much permission do we need? Who puts away the phone first? Can we ask the other person to step away from the twitters? How do we feel about these changes? What is normal? What is not?
Every relationship – from business to friendship to marriages – have different rules. Someone this week told me that they’re allowed to tweet from the bathroom on dates, this is the deal with their husband.
Individual people have different policies. During one conversation I was a part of Monday, someone you might not expect said they unplug a lot. I wasn’t surprised, but others were. You’d be surprised too how disconnected I am from things. (It’s really about having the right tools.)
What’s your policy? Do you have one? How do you feel about twitter use in public? or during face time? Do you and your friends or partner have rules about use during dinner? How is this new connectivity changing your interactions?
(photo credit: Armando Bellmas)