Freaking Glenn Fleishman.
If you read about the kind of things that I write about, then you’ve undoubtedly read Glenn Fleishman. (That’s because you either like the Apple beat, about which Glenn writes with great frequency, or you are my father, in which case you’ve at least read Glenn’s comments on my Facebook Wall.)
Glenn is great. In addition to being a great writer, he’s my own personal advice columnist and a good friend. So you know I love him.
But despite my affection for Glenn, I am still angry at him. Because today he had to go and tweet something that now makes me want to go and change my life for the better. What a jerk, right!?
Here’s the tweet:
Multitasking 2.0: doing stuff on your smartphone while talking to people in front of you. Also doesn’t work. http://nyti.ms/dKRcuE
I knew what the article was going to be about, and I clicked it anyway. It was advice I didn’t want to read, because I knew how seriously I needed to read it.
In the New York Times article Glenn linked, David Carr discusses the sad truth of our smartphones. They keep us better connected than humans have ever been—at the expense of our ability to connect to the folks directly in front of us. Carr relates numerous too-familiar scenes: Friends spend time together, until someone checks a phone, and then all the phones come out.
Carr’s analysis is, of course, spot on. The lure of that phone in your pocket—with the chance for new emails! and text messages! and headlines! and tweets! it brings—is strong. New emails makes us feel good. More accurately, the idea of new emails—of folks reaching out to us and somehow validating our self-worth—makes us feel good. In reality, those new emails are often little more than announcements about sales at Target.com or alerts from Netflix.
But when someone writes to you directly—whether via email or Twitter mention or SMS—it’s delightfully ego-stroking.
So we check. I’ve been in meetings where every attendee thumbs an iPhone or Blackberry the entire time. I’ve been at Guys Night Out dinners where the same thing happens. We’re there, but barely.
And the worst part is that the addictiveness itself is addicting. We get so accustomed to checking our email during certain lulls that we do it automatically, without thinking.
When Glenn tweeted his link to Carr’s article, I knew what the article would say. And I clicked it, either despite or because of what I would read.
The cause of my hesitancy, of course, is that I’m guilty of all the crappy behavior Carr describes. Only my way is worse, because I reach for the iPhone (or iPad) when I’m with my kids.
I’m responsible for breakfast. That means feeding a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, while keeping the 7-week-old either asleep or content. The older two can be delightful conversationalists. They can also be less interesting.
I’ve grown accustomed to catching up on news feeds and email and tweets during those (admittedly grand) moments at breakfast when everyone is quietly eating or paci-suckling. But freaking Glenn Fleishman had to go tweet that link at a time I was feeling vulnerable, and I had to go read it, and now I’m attempting a life change.
So the iPad stays upstairs during breakfast. And the laptop doesn’t come to the kitchen table. Breakfast time is talking time. Already we’re having more interesting conversations, at least some of the time.
All those devices now officially sit out dinner, too.
My kids are, quite frankly, more important than all of you. I can admit that sometimes you are all more interesting than they are at certain times, like when they want to tell the same knock-knock joke again and again, or when they want to play the “I one the sandbox game” over and over, or when they want to pretend that we’re all named Dave again.
Even when they skew a bit
boring repetitive, my kids are still awfully cute (most of the time). And I want them to know that I’d rather talk to them than read check in online. And it’s true, too.
This past weekend I took the oldest one to a birthday party. When she was in the middle of the fun, doing her own thing, I reached for my phone without feeling guilty (to tweet, of course. But during mealtimes, I’ve kept the electronics away. (To the dismay of the girls, ironically, who’ve been requesting “The Bloodmobile,” and aren’t happy with my answer that I’m no longer toting devices that could play that song during meals.)
It’s tough, though. When the girls are slowly chewing bananas, and the baby is rocking out to white noise, my first instinct is to read last night’s tweets. I remember that I’m not going to do that, and right now my second instinct is to reach for the small “to deal with” mail pile at the far side of the kitchen table. But distractions are distractions.
So I ignore the mail, too. And I nudge the girls back into conversation again.
I’m changing myself. It’s hard. Just a couple days in, it's already extremely rewarding. And it’s all Glenn Fleishman’s fault.