Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Are You Hands ON? Hands OFF? Get Hands FREE!

It's that time of year...holiday get togethers, coffee with friends, drinks with colleagues, dinners with families. It's that time of year...we should be spending together, really together: hand in hand, hands on listening, hands off our mobile devices and hands free from distraction.

But, we are not.

So, let's change that.

I recently heard one of my favorite songs from the past, by Jewel, "Hands" and it got me thinking about this season. How to handle freeing up our hands from that non living device that really doesn't matter, but using them to hold and hug those living people we really care for. 

"If I could tell the world just one thing, It would be that we're all OK..."

Misuse of technology can be frustrating, believe me, I teach with it most days! It's the way our world works, and it's OK that it's frustrating. What isn't OK, is just throwing in the towel and allowing ourselves to ignore those around us who absolutely deserve our attention.  We need to check our phones, we like to use social media, we enjoy taking pictures. It's OK. Just limit yourself and encourage those around you to limit their mobile device usage during times that are special.  A survey conducted last year shared that 9 out of 10 people feel their loved ones neglect them on a weekly basis by using their technology. Ouch! Make a plan and stick to it, invite your families to be part of the plan too. Perhaps it's something as simple as: everyone power off their devices and throw them in one of the stockings until after dinner. I'm sure Santa won't take them.  Your family, your special time, your decision. 

"I won't be made useless..."

We think we are using our mobile devices to be so useful and efficient, when really we are useless to our friends and families when they need us most. Remember the last time you had a "conversation" with someone by looking at the top of their head because they were looking down at their phone? It sucks. Model the behavior you seek to change. You can use some humor too, like saying, "Hey, I'm right here, you don't have to look for me on your phone!" Be honest and proactive. Find ways to finish your phone business before you meet up with others and expect them to do the same.  "Disconnecting is a luxury we all need", as New York writer Lesley Blume reminds us.

"We'll fight, not out of spite, for someone must stand up for what's right..."

Ok, don't fight, but what do you do when the phone doesn't get put away? Do you combat rude behavior with rude behavior? No, that won't get you very far. In the article, "How to get everyone to put away their damn phones at your party", Rebecca Adams discusses the importance of making it clear that the event, or time together is going to be unplugged. However, in the end, you shouldn't  embarrass someone or make rude comments if he or she continues to waste time on their phone. Remember, it's likely there's always going to be that one person. So, let it go...let it go, or don't invite them back! (Unless, they are family, then you are stuck, or need to be more creative.)

"My hands are small I know, but they're not yours, they are my own.."

Well, maybe you have big hands, but that's not the point here. The point is that we have to stop blaming others and other things because of our technology addiction. Saying comments like, "I have to check my work email right now before you pass the gravy," "I have to text back my friend before they get mad," or "I have to finish this game!" makes us sound like we are being ruled by a non human device which we OWN, it doesn't not OWN us. They are your hands, take control of them and use them more to hug and hold, rather than to post and not be present.

"In the end only kindness matters."

Whether you are a Jewel fan or not...she's onto something here.

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