Today, the Federal Communications Commission is debating allowing cellphone use during flights in the United States. I have been following this as I fly around 125,000 miles a year, about 30% of that in the U.S. But this blog is less about technology and all about something my last blog also addressed…self-absorption. Remember that when I write these blogs, they aren’t what I speak about on stage but they all relate to what has driven me and my career for over thirty years and that is how our personal attitude contributes to our singular success but more importantly, how our singularity connects to humanity and for years it seems our caring about others has been shrinking and I believe the culprit is partly due to technology.
So, I am authoring this blog on my iPad, I have a laptop, use a Samsung smartphone and all puns aside, use hands free bluetooth ability on all my devices so I am a technology user but it doesn’t run my life and I use something that seems harder to find all the time…common sense! I NEVER text while I am driving cause without arms that would be stupid but even if you have hands, texting and driving IS STUPID!!!!
On CBC Radio’s “Q With Gian Gomeshi” this morning, he began his show addressing this subject and had two guests with opposing views. Veda Shook of the Association of Flight Attendants represented the No side and Kevin Rogers of Aeromobile UK the Yes side. Let’s start with stating I am completely against the Yes side as was Veda Shook and her main point, as is mine, is a concern for the personal habits of people she has worked with in the air for decades. One might assume people don’t need to be told to be polite but in my decades of flying, it seems that over 50% of people didn’t get that memo. I simply cannot believe how rude and self-absorbed people are when they fly. Don’t get me started on carry-on luggage, which is a major irritant and why flights seem to always be late.
Kevin Rogers, who clearly has a major self-interest since he owns a company that supplies technology to allow people to use their mobile devices on airplanes spoke eloquently but said something that prompted this blog. “Clearly, we cannot live without our cellphones”, he proclaimed as if everyone listening would nod their heads in agreement. What is truly scary is the sheer number who did. I DID NOT!!! I can easily live without my cellphone and again, not boasting but let’s consider what this all represents.
I think we can all agree that technology can be very liberating from an information gathering point of view and computers can do amazing tasks people used to take hours, days or even years to accomplish. I am not a luddite. But, could we not all at least consider one observation. I watch people in airports, for example, walking with their heads down. So is it just me or is walking with your head down a bad idea…PERIOD! They are oblivious but more to this point, what could possibly be so vital that they can’t just sit for a moment and focus on the task at hand? Remember, I am not against the use of the device but the complete ignorance of their surroundings astounds me and worse, if they don’t see me as I approach, they act as if I am the one who should watch where they are going! Really?
I use my device while flying but only to text my wife in the cellphone parking lot in Calgary to alert her when I have landed and she is picking me up and I don’t use it until then. I don’t need to. I AM NOT THAT IMPORTANT AND NEITHER ARE YOU!!! It just seems ridiculous that if people are already addicted to their device, a couple hours on a plane might be good for them but instead, we are on the cusp of caving in to allow them even more access. It seems like instead of curing the addict, we enable them by giving them more. If you can’t handle being without your device, you have as serious a problem as some strung out on crack and if you were the only one affected, there would be no issue but you are affecting those around you and that includes me!
The worst part is, we are also buying our kids crack. I cannot believe parents who insist their little angels MUST HAVE A PHONE! Really? I categorically disagree. Is it just me or are these same parents not noticing that a major increase in perceived bullying has coincided with increased mobile use by adolescents? Its bad enough that grown adults can’t manage their time but our youth should be focusing on their education and growth not how many fricking Facebook Friends they have or how many Instagram photos they have posted in the last hour! ME, ME, ME! Here we go again.
I challenge all of you to go without your mobile device for a week. Sounds bizarre, huh? Every Summer, we go to our cottage for a considerable vacation and OMG, there is no cellular coverage on our property. I saw a bunch of teenagers walking on the road on the hill behind our place with their hands extended above their heads as if riding a roller-coaster. When I asked what they were doing, they said they were trying to get a cell signal. Really Again? We may as well buy them some heroin, a rubber tube and needle and get them completely hooked. if that seems like strong language to you, too bad.
We are underestimating what the cost of being “connected” is going to be and I believe it will show itself in everything from neck, shoulder and wrist problems to serious attention deficit illness that is self-induced! I am obviously old school, but I am very proud of that. When I am in someone’s presence, I do my best to acknowledge them keeping eye contact and if conversing, actually listening to what they are saying. I believe in honouring people unless they do something to take that away. I believe in living in the moment and being present. I am far from perfect but at least I know for a fact that when I leave the house, I elevate my level of consciousness to include those I encounter in my day because one of the greatest lessons I have learned in my entire life is that our ego can be the most self-destructive elements of our humanity and allowing a machine to infiltrate that ego does nothing but create machines out of us too!
Please remember I have dedicated my life to making the world better and create a more inclusive society where we are all connected. Please don’t let a silly little piece of plastic and silicone take us backward. SAY NO TO IN-FLIGHT MOBILE CALLS!