Put Down the CrackBerry and Talk!


iPhone.jpgSome friends and I had dinner last night. During our conversation, we got onto the topic of technology and how it’s so addictive—how “CrackBerry” might be a better name for BlackBerry. One friend said, “I can’t sit still anymore. If I have down time, I have to be doing something, and I usually check e-mail. And if I’m in a boring meeting, I have to check e-mail again just so I can get through the boredom.” Another friend said, “I can ignore phone calls, but if I hear an e-mail ping, I have to read it. Immediately. It’s a compulsion.”

Have we become Pavlov’s dogs?

What we didn’t discuss last night was how this behavior affects relationships. But I’ve been thinking about it ever since and I’ve looked around  for examples.

Nowadays, most professors don’t speak to their students so much as the back of their laptops (and half the time the students are surfing the Web for unrelated information). At many meetings I attend, I see people using their BlackBerry or iPhone, paying attention to the speaker with one eye and their gadget with the other. Kids tied up in a video game or instant messaging grunt at the parent who comes home from work. And when people come over to visit, sometimes they only sporadically chat while checking out people’s Facebook updates than actually talking with the people they came to see.

It seems like a lot of the time we’re too distracted to focus on actual people and events in our lives. It’s getting to the point where I’m going to start saying something to tech addicts: “Pry your thumbs away from the device. Unplug the Bluetooth. Put them down and back away. Then make eye contact with someone, listen and smile. You’re not missing anything if you focus on one thing at a time!”

What do you think? Is CrackBerry a fitting nickname for your phone? Have you seen this behavior, too, or am I just old and misunderstanding something? And if you’re with me, what do you think it’s doing to (or for) relationships?

Who wrote this?

Meredith has had two careers: one as a writer/editor for both Focus on the Family and The Navigators, and one as an English teacher trekking far-flung corners of Europe, Africa and Asia. She now rejoins Focus, but with souvenirs—including new eyes with which to better view American culture.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  RonJon1991:

I completely agree that America is addicted to media like blogging and texting. This is the reason my parents didnt let me get a facebook till I turned 18.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Ragenfluff:

One of my pet peaves, is going over to a friend's house to hang out for the weekend/night, and being ignored in favor of Facebook/IM/or Texting.That being said, however, I have to admit that being able to text someone is the most amazing feeling in the world, especially for those of us who live an hour+ away from their friends. When you're with company, of course you should put the phone away... and when I have friends over, I make it a point to drop my other social stuff and focus on the person(s) who came to hang out... buuuuuuuut..... when you're alone, and you're just drawing, or writing, or reading... and your phone viberates in your pocket, it makes you happy. Plus, It gives your friends a way to always reach you, if they're feeling down, or need some prayer, or just general encouragment (Happend quite a bit when I texted more), and vice-versa.I tend to feel that most people are not addicts, though there are a few that are. I'd say the general population just doesn't want to make the people who text them feel bad, by not answering (which is something that non-texters don't tend to think about) and, as was stated in a previous article, they don't realize it's bad manners to text in front of friends. Or.. don't realize how much it bothers their friends, rather.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Bunjiman:

Technology has certainly changed how we communicate.  It would be hard for our culture to conceive of a time when cell phones, e-mail, text messaging, and chat didn't exist!  As such, we use these methods as a crutch, and being able to talk to someone face to face has falled by the wayside.  I'm not glued to my cell phone, but there was a time when I would spend hours on instant messaging talking to people but was too shy to pick up the phone and call them!  Even years after giving it up, it still has impeded on my communication skills with people face to face.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Mykus:

I'd definitely say that you're not misunderstanding something about this. In some ways, it's cool to see a constant connection with friends - a "community" of sorts. But taking everything man-made in moderation is important.

Technology can be a great tool if used for good things, but for the most part, I'd say this is yet another symptom of how our modern worldview (if we understand things [science] then we can develop technology in order to manipulate those things, and thus we will have a better economy and easier, more comfortable lives) is a poor direction to go. Technology, it would seem, has a lot of consequences - ones that seem to outeigh the benefits.