Kimberly’s Burn Book: Would It Kill You To Get Off Your Phone?

Welcome to Kimberly’s Burn Book, a feature in which I complain about things that annoy, irritate, or frustrate me. In other words, pretty much everything.

My brother Mike, a broadcaster for the Fort Wayne TinCaps, recently discussed in a post how the art of conversation is dying. So many people communicate constantly through social media and email but not in face-to-face or phone conversations. Mike doesn’t look at his phone, which he uses, like most people, for email, texting, Facebook and Twitter, while he’s at the gym, and he enjoys the break. Since my gym is close to my apartment, I just leave my phone at home, but it’s not easy. I feel naked leaving my apartment phone-less.

Whenever I have a spare moment or need to kill time, I check my phone for texts, emails, Facebook posts and tweets. I’m addicted to it. I check it in line at the post office, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, and while I’m eating lunch. I even check it when I’m on the subway even though I know there probably isn’t service on the slight chance that I might pick up a bar or two of service underground. Most of the time, there’s nothing new, but sometimes when you go a few hours without checking your phone, you come back to find missed calls, voicemails, texts and emails and it’s overwhelming.

Still, is that any excuse for the crazy behavior people exhibit while using cell phones? When I started working in New York, I took a 30-minute commuter train to and from work. Every so often I’d get stuck in a car with an uber-loud cell phone gabber who was clueless of how irritating his or her conversation was to everyone else in the car. The resurgence of the quiet car on trains is quite possibly a gift from God. Loehmann’s doesn’t even let you talk on your phone in the dressing room anymore, and that’s fine by me. Nobody likes to be distracted by errant chatter when picking out clothes.

Everyone has his or her own style of communicating, and I recognize that everyone isn’t as obsessive about checking their phone as I am, and that there are times and places, like church, where it is totally inappropriate to be checking your phone every minute.

Texting while driving is against the law, but the rules for cell phone use when you’re with friends are a little cloudier. When I’m with a friend and I need to answer a text or call that’s important, I’ll say something like, “Excuse me for one second, I need to answer this text, my mom wants to know what time I’ll get to her house,” and I think that’s okay, because I turn my attention back to them afterwards. A while back a friend of mine got a new boyfriend who texted her nonstop. The friend and I went to the mall and out for lunch and she was on her phone the entire time. It was maddening for me because I felt like she didn’t hear one thing I said. It was like the phone was interrupting our conversation even though it wasn’t making a sound. I think that unless you’re at a business meeting or expecting an urgent call, you shouldn’t keep your phone on the table during a meal with someone. What annoys me most about the way we use cell phones is how it seems like everyone is glued to his or her phone, but sometimes it takes hours to get a reply to a text. What’s up with that?

Crushable has an interesting article up about whether texting should be allowed in movie theaters. Every time I’ve gone to the movies recently, someone has been checking their phone for texts during the movie. The backlight from a cellphone is blinding when you’re in a dark theater and it’s also distracting. The anti-texting PSA shown at AMC theaters shows a woman taking a call during a movie, saying, “Sure, I can totally talk!” It would be funny if it hadn’t actually happened during a movie I saw a few months ago. I asked the person to quiet down and she got an attitude with me. Not talking on your phone during a movie is the most basic of etiquette lessons and it’s sad that not everyone has learned them.

What are we so afraid of missing? Of the hundreds of messages we receive every week through all sorts of channels, how many of them are actually urgent or contain life-changing, earth-shattering information? In my experience, very few. Most of the time we’re making plans to see other people in person. Then, we can look at our phones together.


2 thoughts on “Kimberly’s Burn Book: Would It Kill You To Get Off Your Phone?

  1. Great article….so true on so many levels. I am guilty of checking my phone for messages while standing in a line or waiting for my morning latte. I find we are all just way too connected now a days and make it a point at night to turn the volume off on the phone so it doesn’t go off during the night. For me at least, if anyone really needs to reach me they have my home phone number, not that I get many calls on it now.

    I also agree that the art of conversation is dying. My boys,. especially the younger one, are always texting someone. This why we make them sit down to dinner with us, put the cell phones away and do not answer the home phone during dinner. This forces us to actually speak to each other about how our days were.


    1. Very true .. usually if someone has something important to tell you they can call your landline. I don’t even have one anymore though. That’s nice that you have no phones at the dinner table!


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