Cell Phone Dependency

We must interact with everyone except the people we’re with

I’m still trying to solve the security issue, but as I’m an effective multi-tasker, I thought I’d add a new post, one that has been simmering now for years. It’s about people’s dependency on mobile phones which in my view has spiraled out of control. We’ve all become phone addicts and it has to stop!

I was eating dinner the other day at a Japanese restaurant and noticed that the 4 people on the next table weren’t engaging in conversation as one usually does during a dinner, but all 4 were in fact busy on their cell phones. What is the point of arranging to meet friends for dinner and then spending the entire meal connecting with other people rather than the ones you’re with?

And have you ever been having dinner with someone and then every 2 minutes, they check their phone? I mean, unless you’re dining with a heart surgeon who is on call, there’s no excuse for this type of behaviour. WoAi says the phone should not even be in plain sight during the meal. Put it away!

It’s not just during meal times of course. It’s equally annoying during meetings when people ignore what’s being discussed and scroll through their address book instead. Sure, there might be times when there’s an urgent email or message coming through, but let’s be honest, most of the time, you’re just texting your girlfriend and asking her what she’s doing.

3 iPhones between 2

And it just gets worse. As if having one phone to distract you at dinner was not enough, this girl sitting outside Element Fresh in Xintiandi had two iPhones. And at one stage, she was texting on BOTH at the same time. It’s simply mind boggling and at the same time, slightly sickening that while some people in China barely have enough to eat, others are double fisting iPhones while eating over priced pasta!

Make no mistake, I do spend a lot of time on my phone each day, but I think the whole thing is getting out of hand and everyone needs to follow some basic ground rules if humanity is to survive. So for example, if you MUST take a call or reply to a text, a quick apology before doing so wouldn’t be out of order. And once you’re done, put it away and focus on who you’re with. Oh, and don’t get me started on the glasses without lenses that the girl (with only one iPhone) is wearing!

Rant over.

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23 Responses to Cell Phone Dependency

  1. Bittermelon says:

    + 1000. I have seen couples at restaurants who sit down, order, and then each takes out a phone and never look at each other. But even before mobile phone days, I have seen people sit down at dim sum places and start to read newspapers. So whenever you start this campaign I am right behind you. (There are restaurants, few and far in between, that disallow cell phone use.)

  2. Yon says:

    hah! I’ve had this issue simmering in my soul as well. I actually make it a point to put my phone away at dinner these days. I realized I was a phone addict a couple years ago (when I got my first smart phone) and decided to nip the habit in the butt before it got out of hand.
    I’m still obsessed with checking into places and staying current on my Instagram feed, so who knows? Maybe I’m in denial…

  3. Lilly bro says:

    I see it all the time here, mostly among the Chinese students. I think it’s great. Far more tolerable than hearing them hold conversations on their phones in the dining room and pissing everyone off.

  4. Lil bro says:

    Oops, predictive text!

    Ps. I have to go now as the waiter is growing just a little impatient, having called him over to take our order then studying our phones instead of the menu.

  5. Bittermelon says:

    And in other news, a yoga instructor was fired from her job at Facebook because she insisted on a no cell phone policy in her classes.

  6. WoAi says:

    @Yon – I’ve had the pleasure of dining with you and trust me, you don’t have a problem. But I think just to be sure, we should have dinner once again!

    @Lilly bro – Nice new nickname you have there. And I suppose you’re right. Sitting in silence texting is better than screaming “Waiiiiiiiiiiii”in to your phone.

    @Bittermelon – Facebook hires yoga instructors? But thanks for the support. If they can ban smoking in restaurants, why can’t they ban cell phones!

  7. Bittermelon says:

    Facebook (and other tech companies) offer their employees classes (and meals) so they can stay at work longer. They hire outside companies to provide these classes. This lady was fired by her employer when someone at Facebook objected to her no cell phone policy.

    Yes there are restaurants that have no cell phone policies. But there are not that many of them.

  8. Matthew says:

    I saw a possible solution suggested here: http://www.getkempt.com/the-code/the-phone-stack.php

  9. WoAi says:

    @Matthew – That is GENIUS!!! What a great solution to this widespread problem. I’m going to implement this straight away when I next go out with friends. I suppose the only issue is if not everyone has arrived yet because if my phone rings it could be someone trying to confirm the location or to let us know they can’t make it and to go ahead without them.

    But otherwise, BRILLIANT!

    @Bittermelon – Ah yes, I’ve heard about such companies but never had the pleasure to work for one. We do have an X-Box at work though!

  10. Stimpy says:

    It has become amazing how much time people spend looking into their ‘black mirrors’. Go in to any restaurant and you can count many, many people on their phones.

    My brother’s girlfriend is the worst offender I know. The other week, he suggested that I went out for dinner with him and her. I almost said ‘Just you then, you mean’, because she may as well not be there, the amount of time she spends on her phone. I know it has pissed many people off in the past.

  11. Stimpy says:

    I am also wondering whether the practise has imcreased because these people want to stay connected and cannot step away from the internet for 30 minutes, or whether it is because it has become a fashionable thing to be seen to be doing. We all know how people here love to flash their phones around.

  12. WoAi says:

    @Stimpy – Well actually I think in some cases it’s a language issue and the girl feels left out if the discussion is on say, the English premier league, so they might resort to their phones. I’m not saying it’s right, but I have seen that situation many times.

    Then yes, the need to be connected. And I am guilty of this. Checking to see if anyone has made more comments on my blog, checking Weibo, Weixin, Facebook and Twitter. But I think the point here is not about that but about whether you do that while in a social situation with real people in front of you.

    I think it’s definitely about being wired / connected rather than image. I don’t think it looks that cool to be on your phone, but then that’s just me. I remember a friend was shooting of a very quick text and I deliberately resisted the urge to pick up my own phone because I didn’t want someone to glance over and see both of us sat there on our phones at the same time.

  13. CP says:

    @Matthew – I agree that’s a great idea – in fact I persuaded my colleagues to do this at dinner last night (having… um… noticed this whilst surfing the internet on my iphone during dinner… whoops…) But was the photo taken with a cameraphone? If so I hope they paid for dinner!

  14. WoAi says:

    @CP – Yes, this will mean I have to start carrying a separate camera to take blog pictures with. What’s the etiquette relating to cameras during dinner? My view is it is permissible. The thing with the phone is that after taking the photo, the temptation is to then upload it to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Weibo and Weixin by which time, dessert will have arrived.

  15. T. says:

    I’ve played phone stack before. One of my HK friends almost got hives from hearing a phone continually go off with What’s App messages.

  16. WoAi says:

    @T – Wow this sounds like a fun game that everyone can “enjoy”. But wait, are you not allowed to turn your phone off or put it on silent mode? Very cruel!

  17. T. says:

    Well, we may have played it to make fun of HER specifically and her cell phone addiction. She won’t play anymore.

    Funny enough it turned out that 8 of the 12 messages were for me.

  18. WoAi says:

    @T – You’re all very cruel, the poor girl! You know I have been waiting for a business opportunity to come along for 10 years and I think it’s finally here – I’m going to set up a “clinic” to help cure these poor phone addicts of their unfortunate affliction so they can once again rejoin society and live healthy, happy lives. Please pas your HK friend’s contact details to me. She can be the first to enroll.

  19. T. says:

    I’m onto your game. You’re just trying to get my HK female friend’s phone numbers.

  20. WoAi says:

    @T – Are you kidding, a girl who will play with her phone and let me enjoy my steak in peace – she’s perfect! Seriously dude, hook a brother up!

  21. wisemanofasia says:

    @Woai – hook a brother up? Stop watching the Wire and get back on the internet….

  22. Stimpy says:

    The more eagle-eyed visitors would have noticed another example of WoAi’s slip into Americanism- the title of the blog post.

    What did you do on July 4th, WoAi? ;-)

  23. WoAi says:

    @Stimpy – Yes, well spotted and a very interesting point. One thing I have learned after living abroad for more than a decade is that you need to adapt your language to meet the audience. So if I was in a pub in Putney, I’d probably use different vocabulary to when addressing a group of teenagers from LA. In this case, everyone in England knows what a cell phone is, but if I said what brand of mobile do you use, most non-Brits would have no idea what I was talking about.

    Or to put it another way, I’m appealing to the lowest common denominator. And God bless America. Have a nice day y’all!

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