Caught in the Act

“We can be incredibly disconnected in this day and age with computers and cell phones.”  Marcia Gay Harden, actress

“What are you doing, Panpaw?” she asks with an obvious tone and look that reveals her complete disapproval. My granddaughter Caroline catches me looking at my Smartphone in the middle of our conversation. Family and friends are gathered in the salon of The Great Gab-Sea, now parked at the Pirates Cove dock. Earlier we had traveled from our home slip in Terry Cove past beautiful Robinson Island to a popular and scenic destination located on Arnica Bay. What is there not to love?! Outdoor gathering. On the water. Beautiful scene. Family and friends. Laughter.  You cannot paint a better picture or opportunity. Except, here I am, looking at my phone in the middle of all this wonderfulness.  And, I get caught in the act!

Immediately I explain that I am looking at the time because I know that she and her friends have a certain deadline for getting back to homeport. Caroline has agreed to be the chauffeur for the vehicle ride to the Pensacola Airport so that her friend Monica can catch her scheduled flight back to Washington, D.C.

Caroline is not accepting any of my attempted explanation. She reminds me that in similar circumstances in the past that I have not let her off the hook.  And, she is not about to let me off this time. Anytime a grandchild can catch a grandparent doing something wrong is a huge victory for the younger person. She is really enjoying the moment. I am too, because this whole family practice was instituted by me, expounding the philosophy to everyone. Now, the preacher has been caught violating his own proclamation.  ‘Walk your talk’ are the words I hear loudly in my mind.

No phubbing is the term that represents the current mandate in our family. Phubbing is defined as the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of honoring them with undivided attention. Keep in mind that this whole approach is authored by me. Thus, being found in a violation of the very policy I created, argued for and made such a big deal, is a big deal. I am caught and my explanation does not excuse me.

Realizing that Caroline has the upper hand on this occasion, I finally relent and tell her that I am glad that she has adopted this approach. She tells me to just ask any of her friends about her seriousness on this topic.  She lets no one get away with phubbing (including her grandfather).

But, the logical argument against this practice is that looking at your phone for just a second while engaged in a conversation is no big deal. Right?  No, that is wrong. It isa big deal.  Current research into this practice has shown definitive negative results. And, one of the most obstructive elements is that it affects relationships.

Author Jaime Ducharme’s article, Using Your Phone at Dinner Isn’t Just Rude. It Also Makes You Unhappy, includes information on a survey that was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. I find it interesting that this study reveals that just by having your phone visible (not actually using it) can result in a negative effect on your social interaction. In recent years there have been a number of studies on the effects of phubbing. And, the results have consistently shown negative consequences.

I have written about this subject in previous editions of this newsletter; and may I suggest that you read the one titled Phubbing.  I will continue to revisit this thesis as more research is completed.

Success in life, from the beginning of time, has depended on relationships. Any practice we can adopt that will enhance and improve our most important relationships is going to create a better opportunity for success.  Any habit that hurts our relationships should be avoided.

What can you do? When you are in a conversation with others . . .

Put the phone away.

Out of sight. Turn it off. Put it on silent mode. Do not look at it. This may seem extreme in our busy electronic world, but it will make a difference that will prosper you in your success journey.

I have completely revamped my daily activity in this area. There still are moments when I do not practice what I preach. But such occurrences are rare. Thank you, Caroline, for reminding me of what I actually believe and practice (most of the time).

My personal habits, representing a statistic of one, is not enough to be considered as a scientific process. But I am confident about my results. I am happier. I find that increasingly I am substantively more engaged in personal interactions with others. My relationships with family and friends are stronger and better.  For me, the research is in. And, the results are great!

A solid, proven success practice for our modern times.

Put the phone away.