You Are Now Free To Shut The F*** Up

It was posted about 20 minutes ago, so naturally you’ve seen it by now. I know by tomorrow it will be old news, but whatever.

The FCC has proposed that airplane passengers should be able to use their mobile phones midflight, as long as the planes are above 10,000 feet. Now before we go all crazy, it has not happened yet, only been proposed. Also airlines are free to restrict this capability at their discretion. 

So let’s look at the pros and cons of allowing airplane travelers to talk on their phones:

Pros:

1) Your plane is crashing, so you can call your loved ones to make sure they destroy the harddrive on your home computer

2) Flying will no longer restrict you from having phone meetings while airborne. Always be closing!

3) You will no longer have to wait 1-2 minutes for your phone to turn on after landing. Unless you are flying an airline that makes you turn it off during takeoff/landing. Then you will have to wait.

Cons:

1) You are bugging the shit out of literally everyone around you. Being in the sky does not change the land-etiquette of not forcing people to hear half of your stupid conversation

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2) If this applies to pilots as well, then we are all screwed

3) For a lot of people flights are the last place they can go to have an excuse to unplug. Perhaps submarine rides will be the last tech-free haven?

I fly quite frequently, so we will see what kind of effect this has, if it in fact becomes a reality. Honestly I think it’s one of those things that’s easy (and fun!) to complain about before it happens, but will more than likely not be that big of a problem. If it does become super annoying, then I vote we enact SkyLaw to make it acceptable to punch loud, rude people in the face. 

My Dot Complicated Moment

Everyone has their “aha” moments, their epiphanies seeped in the sudden realization that a change is needed. It doesn’t matter what these moments are about, only that they serve us with a great deal of value in helping us direct our lives.

Randi Zuckerberg’s book, Dot Complicated, was released this week, and with it a new call-to-action on acknowledging our Dot Complicated moments, or the times when we realize we need to unplug, rethink, and adjust the role technology plays in our lives.

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Technology has historically been my friend. I consider myself an early adopter, and I love seeing the way bright minds put their heads together to innovate on the biggest problems facing our world, like the TacoCopter. I started using gmail and Facebook both when they were invite-only, and I’m always tuned in on what’s being born out of the collective tech knowledge. Like most people I’m always signed in to my various social media accounts, and more often than not that’s where social plans formulate, rather than through text or phone.

Then there are those moments. When a text goes unanswered, and my mind races with all the reasons this person must hate me, which is why I’m not hearing from them. When having eye contact during a conversation becomes both surprising and memorable. When I ask my boyfriend if we can go out to dinner just so we can sit across from one another, instead of side by side on the couch. When I’m in tangible discomfort after forgetting my phone at home, and the activities of my friends on my Facebook feed fill me with a wild jealousy I never knew to be possible.

It’s little moments like these that are adding to my saturation point with technology. The gift of information access is a double-edged sword that cuts right through your perception of yourself. You didn’t know you could scare yourself until you’re curled up in bed wondering why your friends don’t text you back, and being mad at yourself for being upset about it. As if it matters.

The good thing about getting caught up in the drama created by digital innovation is when you get that breath of fresh air. That Dot Complicated moment. When I stepped off the plane to Israel with 39 strangers I turned my phone off, as it lacked an international plan. Thus followed 10 days of truly living in the moment – of riding camels through the desert, of genuinely getting to know the people around me, and excelling at the art of getting lost.

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The company I worked for at the time got bought by Google while I was there, and nothing so big has mattered so little to me. It didn’t matter because I wasn’t there. They asked us all at the end of the trip what was the most significant part of our experience, and I knew right away mine was being given an opportunity to be a person again, a real person who wasn’t constantly keyed into what everyone else was doing at all times.

Technology provides portals into the lives of other people, lives that are curated to be shared mind you, and that is wonderful. What I’m learning though, is it’s not the end-all. There is value in unplugging, in looking into the eyes of another soul while conversing with them, in sharing experiences unfiltered. And that even though it may be uncomfortable at first, just like any detox, you feel better at the other side.

Tech Etiquette in Restaurants: A Social Experiment

Cross posted from Dot Complicated

Imagine a five-star restaurant that boasts tasty delicacies plated like mouthwatering works of art, staffed by some of the most servile waiters on earth.

Now imagine me (or look at the picture of me below if imagining isn’t your thing) with a friend, texting and Tweeting away on our iPhones and tablets, disturbing the ambiance of this fancy, expensive restaurant. Yes, for the sake of journalism, a friend and I ventured forth into the world of fine dining to see how far we would have go to get ourselves kicked out of a restaurant*. It was a great excuse to treat ourselves to some delicious meals and have the license to text all we wanted!

cant eat it til you instagram it
Can’t eat it ‘til you Instagram it!

These days, more and more of us are guilty of being that jerk at a restaurant, snapping photos of our food as if documenting it will satiate our hunger. The foodie movement has given rise to a generation of techies self-identifying as gourmands, leading to an obsessive inability to holster our digital devices while dining.

There are applications dedicated to his hobby, such as Forkly, which is essentially a social network that enables people to be rude at restaurants.

But have no fear – fortunately, for those of us afflicted with the (almost) medical need to keep devices close by while dining, there is a way to know if your frenetic tweeting is acceptable or not. After my adventures of intentionally annoying people at restaurants, I drew some conclusions that will save us all the embarrassment of having our cell phones taken away from us.

For those of you who are like me and have forsaken social aptitude for math-related reasons, here is a graph that can help you determine when it’s okay to use your tech devices in restaurants:

tech at table

Thanks to GraphJam for helping me make this graph so I didn’t have to cry on the floor in the fetal position while trying to draw it by hand.

Here are a few examples to show what types of behavior will break that threshold and get you kicked out of a restaurant:

Okay To Do:

  • Instagram/Facebook/Tweeting your meal (in moderation, and discreetly). How else will you give people food FOMO (fear of missing out)?
  • Playing games with the sound off while waiting for your food, because you are a child that needs to be distracted
  • Putting a photo of a hot celeb on your tablet and placing it on the chair opposite you, helping to make your dining experience feel less lonely (but much more sad)

Not Okay To Do:

  • Taking flash photos in mood-lit restaurants, especially at restaurants like Opaque, where you dine in total darkness
  • Skype calls with mom on your tablet, just for kicks!
  • Talking on the phone at the table, annoying your date and waiter who is trying to take your order. If it’s urgent, take it outside!
  • Watching videos on YouTube of your wife giving birth

The bottom line is to use common sense. At really nice restaurants, I would recommend keeping your phone out of sight, even though it is hard to resist becoming one of the rich kids of Instagram. Doing anything that interferes with the experience of another patron is rude, and just because others in the restaurant are doing it doesn’t make it more acceptable. I would encourage diners to enjoy their culinary experiences instead of missing them while trying to preserve them. I think there’s an app for that.

* For the record, I wasn’t able to get kicked out of any restaurants – but I did get a lot of dirty looks from other patrons, and I definitely annoyed the waiters (don’t worry, I tipped well!).