“In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone to allow people to talk to each other even if they lived in different cities. In 2007, Steve Jobs presented the Iphone and ever since we cannot talk to each other anymore, even if we are sitting at the same table.”
(Bernd Stelter, Wider den tierischen Ernst)
Alexander Graham Bell considered his invention an intrusion on his real work as a scientist and refused to have a telephone in his study. Yes, cell phones are one of the world's greatest inventions. But as convenient as they may be, they are still new to society and proper etiquette is still being established.
With a similar mindset, Mr. Christopher Check wrote a study of electronic addiction and dependence in 2007 for The Angelus. Titled "Chesterton Unplugged," it gave warning about - and observed - the dominance that the virtual world places on our lives.
Taking Mr. Bell and Mr. Check as inspiration, and with the penitential season of Lent upon us, here are 10 practical, natural, suggestions. Grace and supernatural growth builds on nature!
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Ten Resolutions for Lent
- The person in my presence is always more important than the intruder who calls or texts. I will enjoy talking to my neighbor or family member in person and ignore my phone. More than anything, I will not offend him by checking messages or placing my phone between us on a table or counter. If I am anticipating an important call, I will let the person I am with know beforehand. In brief: avoid taking calls when you are already engaged in a face-to-face conversation. You may be tempted to answer but if you resist the urge, the person that you are with will feel respected and appreciated. If you must take a call, ask for permission first.
- I will make this time of Lent a time of direct, fully human contact. I will always prefer a conversation with a real person over a phone call, e-mail, text, or social media. I will let my friends know about this resolution and invite them to join my effort. I will never write a text message or an email to solve a conflict. Avoid texting when you are engaged in a face-to-face conversation. Texting others makes present company feel unappreciated and unimportant. Be careful not to offend people by texting in the presence of others.
- Family time will be especially precious to me. Therefore, I will protect this family time from all interruptions. Together we will agree on “device-free” times every day, especially during the weekend.
- At work, I will not use my cell phone for matters unrelated to work without real necessity (like taking a call from one's spouse).
- I will use my phone carefully and discretely. It is my responsibility to use my cell phone nonoffensively. "Nonoffensively" is not defined by what I expect others to tolerate, but by what others do in fact find offensive. If I ignore this principle, I am simply being rude. In practice:
- I will keep at least ten feet between myself and anyone else whenever I talk on the phone, especially in enclosed spaces. Nobody wants to be forced to sit there and listen to me. This can cause legitimate annoyance.
- I will end my call whenever somebody asks me to.
- I will talk with a soft voice. Shouting on the phone disrupts people around me.
- I will not turn on my speakerphone without real need.
- I will not talk about personal details in public. Personal is just that: personal. If callers want to talk about personal details, I will tell them that I will call back later.
- I will acknowledge the delay; all phone calls involve latency, which means there is a delay between when I speak and the other person hears it.
- I will not blame others for dropped calls. Accepting responsibility for a bad connection (even though it is no one's fault) demonstrates humility and avoids any offense.
- I will not be "that person"; no one likes a fact-checker. I will avoid looking things up during a conversation unless asked.
- Certain times and places are inappropriate for cell phone usage. Therefore, I will avoid talking on my cell phone or having it ring:
- In churches, and during religious ceremonies;
- During meals and invitations;
- In bathrooms;
- In elevators;
- In hospitals and waiting rooms;
- In restaurants;
- In auditoriums, libraries, and museums;
- In taxis, buses, trains, and in the car with others;
- In theaters, where the bright screen can distract others.
- The evening and night should be times of prayer and rest: I will shut off all my devices at least 30 minutes before I go to bed until after breakfast.
- For a more peaceful day I will shut off all alarms and notifications, only checking mail and messages at specific times during the day.
- Every day I will reserve a moment to search my soul and consider the higher things: I will pray, meditate, or read, while staying away from the internet, videos, and games.
- Rather than taking pictures of myself and my friends, I will make these moments in common unforgettable by enjoying the time together. Rather than taking pictures of of nature, I will take a walk or sit down and contemplate God's creation.
The modern devices promise freedom, but they create dependence; far from preserving the past, they rewrite or erase it, they dissolve tradition. Rather than strengthening human friendships they render them more abstract and more distant because they encourage isolation, because they replace true relationships.” (Christopher Check)