1. Driving: Did you know that you are five times as likely to get in a car accident on Thanksgiving than any other time of the year? Between holiday stress, the cold weather hazards, longer nights, and the drinking associated with holiday get-togethers, roads become even more perilous this time of year than any other time.
Hopefully you were smart enough to get the picture about driving and texting, but if you haven’t caught on to how dangerous that is yet, please catch up with the intelligent inhabitants of the Earth. Texting while driving is dangerous to you, pedestrians, fellow drivers — basically, anyone in your general vicinity and there’s no worse time to lose a family member or friend than during the holidays, when you’re all supposed to be cozy by a fire and appreciating one another’s existence.
Re-discover the radio, get to know the passengers in your vehicle, and put your phone the fuck down. Please. There’s no reason why you can’t ask someone else to answer a call or text for you, or to pull over to a gas station if it’s urgent. There’s no reason for this terrible habit, so please, I beg of you, make now the time to kick it.
2. Walking: I commute by bike, and I absolutely love it. It’s great for my body and soul. However, every accident I have or have almost been in was because someone was on their phone. You might assume the majority of these dummies were driving, but, in fact, most people were pedestrians who weren’t looking as they stumbled into the bike lane directly in front of me. They were staring at that tiiiiiny little screen and were so amused by whatever dumb thing someone commented on Facebook that they didn’t look up to see me zooming to work, assuming they were bright enough to look both ways like American mamas are supposed to teach you, right? This happens even when I’m walking — it seems like at least once within in a five-minute period someone will bump into me because they weren’t looking where they were going.
Answer a call or text, by all means, but please try to remain alert of your surroundings, for the safety of everyone around you. Better yet, try to get unplugged from your phone and enjoy your walk. We spend so much time indoors with manufactured temperatures that we forget to appreciate the rain, the wind, the sun, the cold, and so on. Enjoy people-watching again, even! Stay alert, you might enjoy it a lot more than you even realize.
3. Working: It’s totally understandable if you have an urgent call you need to take, or if you need a little break and want to check in with your loved ones, but if you’re at work, please step to the side and try not to make it too frequent an occurrence. A few months ago, my sister was in labor and the anesthesiologist paused five or six times in the middle of inserting a gigantic needle into my dear sister’s back to text someone. In this case, the bad habit of being too sucked into her phone was seriously dangerous, but pausing in the middle of taking my order at a restaurant to check your phone is equally unprofessional (okay, maybe not equally, but still).
If you’re on the clock and work in a setting in which you’re expected to interact with others regularly, I guarantee your superiors will be unimpressed if you’re giving your phone more attention than whomever you are communicating with. If you genuinely are the uncomfortable with social interaction that you’re using your phone as a buffer so as to avoid it, then you might need to re-evaluate your career choice (although, that’s not possible sometimes, I understand).
I try to be understanding of this and to give people the benefit of the doubt. They might be having a family emergency or having a really, really rough day and need a moment to vent to their best friend. However, if I walk up to check out at the grocery store and I can see your thumbs alternating between ‘h’ and ‘a’ over and over and over, I’m going to get very frustrated very quickly.
Try going to work one day and leaving your phone in your bag, in your locker, in your drawer, wherever. Check it once an hour or so. I guarantee you will feel more engaged in your work (hopefully that’s a good thing) and your co-workers/superiors/customers will appreciate the change.
4. Winding down: My boyfriend pointed out to be that the minute I get off my bike after a long day at work, I sit down on the couch and am on my phone either texting furiously or scrolling leisurely through the sludge of social media. What happened to me?! That time was supposed to be for winding down and here I was, engaging in an activity that, although not always negative, was definitely not positive. The time I was supposed to be sending appreciating the good things in life and shedding the stress of the day was spent piling more shit onto ye ole pile o’ worries.
I’ve since switched up my routine a whooooole lot. I still plop down onto the couch and somehow manage to get naked somewhere between the front door and my couch, but the phone stays at the table next to the door. Now, I’ll chat with my boyfriend, I watch some Jeopardy with him usually and we argue about dumb things for fun. If it’s been a bad day, I put on some music or get reading. If it’s been really bad, I start cooking dinner (cooking is my therapy.) The point is: do anything but mess around on your phone during your free time. This is your time to enjoy yourself and do things you really love! I’m not slamming the glory of personal cell phones totally, but do you really include “texting” or “scrolling” on your list of hobbies? Is that really what you do for fun? If so, go ahead, but if not, then save that beautiful ‘just getting home’ time for something better!
5. Conversing: There are a couple of basic qualities that ensure you are a decent conversationalist: pay attention to whomever you’re communication with, show interest, make eye contact, and respond in such a way that shows you have listened and understood what has been said already. If you’re on your phone at any point during a one-on-one conversation, then you have violated all of those very basic criteria. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to speak to someone who won’t get off their goddamn phone. It makes you feel like you’re not important, like what you’re saying doesn’t matter. It just plain sucks.
Don’t text and talk. If you must answer a phone call, then be polite, say “excuse me,” take the call and then return and pick the conversation back up where it ended. It’s just basically polite. On the flipside of #3, it is an awful feeling to be working hard trying to get things done and your boss won’t look up from their phone to answer a simple question or notice you working, when your customer won’t stop texting so that you can just find out what they want to drink. The worst (I think) is in the service industry — you have other tables, your tip, AKA your income is dependent on what these people think of you, this is your job to ask what your customer wants or needs, you have other things to do, and they can’t bother to get off their phone and interact with you for less than a minute! It’s embarrassing to be made to feel so unimportant by a customer, especially when they should be embarrassed by their disconcertingly impolite and inconsiderate behavior.
Treat others with respect by ignoring the texts and social media alerts until you’re alone. Give the person(s) you’re communicating with the time and attention they deserve during a conversation.
6. Sleeping: For so many people, the first thing they do when they wake and the last before they fall asleep and maybe, for some, the thing they do between REM cycles is check their phone and I cannot stress enough how awful this is for you. It’s awful for your sleep that should be restful and peaceful, not haunted by the buzzing and flashing lights of notifications and messages. Turn your phone off, leave it on the other side of the room and learn to enjoy your sleep again. Your quality of life improves greatly along with the quality of your sleep and reading a good book before you doze off is a far better way to tuck yourself in than anything else, at least in my experience.