A letter to a Washington Post agony aunt deplores the fact that the writer’s partner is obsessed with her cellphone and ignores him constantly while they are together, head down, searching the web, sending texts etc. All protests are ignored; the lady is hooked.

If it were not the cellphone it might well be painkillers, alcohol, or worse. Some people are susceptible to addiction. But in general I’m afraid we have to get used to others obsessing over cellphones, attending to those who are absent instead of those who are present, regardless of who they are.

It used to be said that no man is an island unto himself. Now I’m not so sure. What I’m fairly certain of is that someone, somewhere is going to have a go at justifying this rude behaviour, on the grounds that it’s “cool”, it’s good for your health, it “keeps my boyfriend interested”, or “it’s a way of signalling to your companion to quietly get lost”. Who knows? Me? I’m old-fashioned – I like to think I take an interest in my companion, ask questions about her life and opinions, empathize, get her talking. That I personally call polite. Of course, it works both ways. It’s flattering if the interest is reciprocated.

One Comment

  1. While I accept the problem with phones exists, I don’t believe it’s as widespread as many believe. In particular, many in the older generation- my grandparents especially- seem to believe that virtually all young people are addicted to their phones. This may be true for a tiny minority, but not for most. Very often, it feels like the older generation views the younger generation’s ease with technology with suspicion, because they don’t understand technology themselves.
    Having said all that, sometimes it feels hard to escape technology completely, if only for a couple of days. In particular, people on Facebook send you messages (very often about important things) and rightly expect a prompt response. White this is understandable, it means it is very hard to have a break without appearing rude or uncaring.

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