Cell Phone Mania

About every so often something happens in our society that causes us to lose what good common sense we might previously have had. We've been through the innovation of television, transistor radios, mini-skirts, long hair, short hair... well, you get the point. Now we come to the age of the cell phone. I don't think that I've ever seen anything that makes us look more ridiculous than the cell phone.

It's extraordinary to be sitting in a high level meeting with people that you've worked hard to get an appointment with and have somebody's cell phone go off and watch them fumble through their pockets and try to get to it before the third ring. Then they skulk off into the corner to have some conversation that, up until 30 seconds ago was the least important thing on their mind. Then we have the car cell phone freaks who are rushing down the highway at 50 or 60 miles per hour trying to drink their coffee and talk on the phone while surely attempting not to kill themselves. Of course, what could be more ridiculous than to be sitting in a restaurant or even worse, a movie, and have your cell phone go off. What is it about this invention that makes us so crazy?

There are things that are urgent and things that are important. I think it is well that we remember the difference especially as it pertains to professional etiquette. Things that are urgent are not necessarily important. Urgent means something that has to be attended to right now. A ringing telephone, a fax spewing out of the machine, and a Fed Ex package all seem to qualify. We are becoming a nation of "got to have it right now". Why? Things that are important mean exactly that... that they need to be done. Something can be important but not urgent meaning it has to be done but not necessarily right now. Things can be urgent but not important. We don't need to read every single fax the minute it comes out of the machine or open the overnight package the minute it's put on our desk or even answer a phone call. Believe me, when it's important you'll know it!

I would like to recommend that we consider a cell phone a tool, not a cow bell. Nothing is more disconcerting to me and quite frankly disrespectful than to have a meeting at which I am giving my full attention and have somebody's cell phone go off. You can just as easily open it up and turn it off as you can answer it. Whatever it is, it can probably wait and when we answer a phone call in a meeting it sends a very distinct message that what we do is infinitely more important than what our meeting partner does. I believe if you want to accomplish what the meeting is for it deserves respect ... whoops! Gotta go my cell phone is ringing!

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