I have three dogs at my house. Two of them are small yorkies and one is a black mouth cure. Probably like most families the dogs are treated more like people then pets. And when one of the dogs or when all the dogs have some health problems they are taken to the veterinarian’s office. For those of you that have pets you know that going to the veterinarian’s office is not a cheap adventure. Whether you are there to get flea medicine or for more serious ailments, the trip to the vet’s office is going to cost you some money. The people that work at the vet’s office always seem to be nice and caring people. The Veterinarian also seems very nice and usually embarks upon you more information than you will ever understand about your pet. Each trip to the veterinarian’s office is almost like going to your doctor’s office. You check in at the front desk with your pet and then you take a seat in wait for the doctor. Usually an assistant will come out to greet you and take you to an examining room. It is there that you wait just like going to a human’s doctor’s office. One of the big differences is that at a human’s doctor’s office you are made to stand on the scale and witness your weight. At the veterinarian office they wait until you see the doctor and then your pet is taken to a scale and weighed. In both instances you’re probably going to wear the blame of both of you weighing too much. Another thing that I’ve noticed that the veterinarian’s office is the display of pet food, all of it is the most expensive pet food you can buy.
This leads me to a recent visit to the veterinarian office to pick up some more medicine for one of my dogs. As I walked into the front desk area I looked at the four people behind the front desk. Three of them were so engrossed in looking at their phones, that they didn’t even notice that I had walked into the office. Luckily, a middle-aged lady who had been looking at her computer looked up and recognized my presence. Even though the conversation between the two of us took several minutes, none of the other people looking at their phones took time to look up. They were so engrossed in their phones that they were oblivious to any new condition around them. It was at that time that I spoke up to the group. And I told them they reminded me of a commercial put out by the postal service. It is the one where a postal employee goes to deliver a package at the front door. While the postal employee was knocking on the door he could see through the other glass door to people looking at their phones. Even though he continued to knock on the door not one of the two people would stop looking at their phone and answer the door. The message for the commercial was at the postal service will send you an e-mail that they are coming.
This got me to thinking again on how obsessive we are about ourselves. It could be that they’re looking at the phones to check the weather or following a news article. But most likely they’re following Facebook, viewing a tweet or looking at an e-mail. The important thing is that all of those are about one’s self. The new generation of phones are more like small computers than just a way to talk to someone. They are truly amazing and colorful devices that can consume all of my attention. Maybe that’s a good thing if it is a rainy day and you’re stuck at home without any activity to do. But I think it becomes a more dangerous thing. During my time as a detective I spoke to many victims who would continually tell me that they did not see it coming. It is a reference to the crime that they are victim of. Those victims did not notice the man following them from the car to the store. Those victims did not notice that the road was flooded and other cars had already stalled in the water. And certainly that victim/driver did not see the light turned red. They did not notice the children playing along the road before one run out in front of them. They did not hear the sirens of the ambulance or police car directly behind them.
I used to think that if people would walk rather than ride a bike or drive they would be safer. But with the development of the phone I am just as likely to watch somebody walk into a pole or make a turn into a closed-door while looking at their phone and walking. It was always a joke to me that a burglar or a bad character would wear a mask or some other obvious choice of clothing when it came to public service announcement about being safe. Of course the burglar doesn’t wear mask and carry a large bag. But in today’s world that character could walk up to your door, walk into your garage or stand in front of your window and probably not be noticed because the people inside are so busy looking at their phones.
The question of whether we need that much information all the time is a good one. But it seems almost impossible for someone to hold a small device that has a screen on it not to turn their attention to it. Especially if all the information is somehow about or involving the person holding the phone. This is not to say that I think that the phone itself is a bad idea. It is a great tool for communicating and helping a person when they need it. It is gone past a device just to talk into. Now with all the apps one person can have unlimited possibilities. You can use the new phones to scan an item on the grocery store shelf. I can take a photograph or even a short video about things happening around me. There are many good things about the new phones. A person can check on where their children are at or where their parents are at. He can tell you if your child is driving badly and I can tell you if the weather’s going to turn bad.
My thought is how can we condition ourselves to be less involved with the phone so that we do not see what is happening around us. There is no real public announcement about how to use the phone. We just buy the phone and go our own way. And with our freedom of speech, it would be impossible to ever consider controlling the information you get to your phone. I don’t know any real awareness program that can help both the young and old from being totally transfixed by the phone.
One of the hardest things that a successful professional can do is to not answer the phone just because it’s ringing. I say ringing but I know there a lot of other tunes and sounds that come from the phone when it is activated. It almost seems like Pavlov’s dogs and the bell. As soon as the phone rings many people stop what they’re doing, including abandoning a conversation, to answer that phone. Having a phone that shows you some sort of ID for the call coming in is a good thing. But many times with a vague description that shows up on the phone a person cannot help wonder who’s calling them, and so they answer the phone. Even though there are answering messages for each phone, the person will answer the phone. I must admit I really dislike most of the messages that I hear when I’m calling someone and their answering machine message is long and not helpful. I particularly don’t like the message that starts out that “if this is an emergency hang up and dial 911”. Really, if it was an emergency the first call would be 911 not the V.A. Clinic. I don’t need a message to tell me that. It seems lately that when calling a hospital or doctor’s office this is part of their message. Even if you have to wait to all of the options given you before talking to a real person, a message to dial 911 if it is an emergency seems insulting.
Back to my original thought, it’s all about me. The reason that one is so transfixed by the phone is because of the capability of such sites as Facebook, is because it’s all about them. The e-mails are to them or the result of an e-mail they sent to someone. The products that you can look at on the phone via the web are for you. The many people who supply you with the apps are doing so that they can make some money off you.
Once again, I’m not saying that the new phones are bad. I just wish that the person using the phone would gaze up every now and then and look at the world around them. Even though the television produces some of the same behavior, it puts in a dose of advertisements in to allow you to look up and around.
I thought about ending this blog by saying I had to go because the phone is ringing. But I am fortunate that I do not carry a phone and usually do not answer the landline phone of the house. I might listen to the message you leave but that doesn’t mean I’m one to pick up the phone right away.