~ Phillipe Reines, a senior adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
I have a confession: I have terrible technology etiquette. There are certain places where I draw the line; for example, I don't answer the phone or check my text messages in the middle of serious or sensitive conversations, and I don't type emails or texts while my friends are trying to tell me things, even though I am perfectly able to listen and type at once. That's not the point. It's alienating to have a conversation with someone who is staring at a screen instead of looking you in the eye. But my list of technology etiquette breaches is far longer than a list of my virtuous abstinences would be. I do check my calls and texts when I'm in a group and people are not talking directly to me - as if they won't notice that I've checked out momentarily. I text through meetings. And if there's wifi in the meeting space, forget it. My ADD goes full-bore, and while I can do useful things like looking up information and keeping notes, I'm generally also chatting with a friend or two, checking my email, and playing Wordscraper on Facebook.
All of my tech gadgets have in some ways been good for me. It's actually easier for me to pay attention in a meeting if I also have a side line of thought going on to keep me from drifting during boring or frustrating moments. The ability to text a friend from a meeting has kept me from many an unwise comment that may have otherwise slipped through my verbal filter. All of this probably speaks more to my lack of self-discipline than to the benefits of technology. And I know I'm not the first to wonder this, but I've just been thinking lately about the distance created when we're all so very connected through all of these technological media, but basically unable to maintain an in-person conversation in which we don't turn away to a screen at some point. I'm grateful for the ability to stay in touch with friends and family across vast distances, but I'd hope that when we're in the same room again, I could actually be there with them, and not off in the ether somewhere.