The Great Put-Down

I don’t like being told what to do.  Even when the advice is good, my initial reaction upon receiving it is resistance.  I also do not like telling other people what they should do.

When I was about eight years old, I watched my grandfather install new tiles in our living room ceiling.  I noticed after a while that he had made a mistake.  He had put one of the tiles in the wrong way.  I didn’t tell him, though.  I waited for him to notice what he had done and correct it, which he eventually did do.

I wished fervently that I had found the courage to tell Grandpa kindly what he had unintentionally done.  It would have saved him some time and labor and would have prevented my feeling miserable until he noticed the mistake himself.

Thus, today I have summoned up the courage to say this:  People are using their phones too much.  In fact, many seem to be on the phone almost all the time.  They make and receive calls, texts, emails and instant messages.  They surf the Web, play games and obsess over Facebook.  Someone has suggested that if an alien were sent to observe the behavior of humans from a distance, he would return to report that most people spend the day holding one hand to an ear or scrutinizing one of their palms.

Last week while taking a walk, I observed a young mother out for a stroll with her toddler.  I watched with sadness as the mother, engrossed in using her phone, failed to notice that her toddler was walking down the middle of the street.  Though we were not walking in an area of heavy or fast traffic, I wanted to say to the mom, “Your little boy is in the street,” but I didn’t say anything.  She must have eventually recognized what was happening and rectified the situation because I heard of no children being run over in my neighborhood.

Diners at restaurants often spend more time using their phones than they do conversing with the other people at their table.  Shoppers split their attention between selecting their purchases and using their phones.  Thousands of times a day young children are admonished, “Wait a second.  I’m on my phone.”  More disturbing, according to safety experts, texting while driving is now a leading cause of death among teenagers.

People use their phones while doing their banking, while working in their houses and yards, while bathing their children and while supposedly “visiting” with someone else. While it was once considered rude to ignore the people around you, that practice is commonplace anymore.  Do people ever make eye contact?

I don’t like being told what to do.  You probably don’t either, but I am telling you this: Focus upon what it is that you are doing and upon the real-life people who are in front of your face.  Put down your phone.

7 thoughts on “The Great Put-Down”

  1. I couldn’t have said it better. I am so tired of mother ignoring their children and workers having to put up with being rudely ignored while they are serving customers. Get a life people!!!

  2. You R so right !!! That Put~Down is soooo Great .Just the right thing to say at just the right time! I am getting so much braver on here.The last time someone was on the phone while waiting on me ,thankfully,it was a busy counter at a gas station.I put my stuff on the counter but told the young person I could wait while they were busy on the phone. It didn’t take them long to hang up. I would bet they didn’t get the chance to get back on the phone,once the other customers saw I got away with it…….

  3. I wonder how all these people have so much to say. I too hate to see families having dinner out and everyone is on some kind of device. Parents you need to know what is going on with your children. Our little one who is 4 was here yesterday and Joy and I were gone for about an hour and she told Jimmy to keep his eyes open and pay attention to her. She is so much fun. I have come in contact with some children that I would love to take in because their parents are not paying attention to them at all. They are starved for attention and they are so good. Makes me sad.

  4. I totally agree, Debbie, with your sad observation of less attention to children (and others) due to electronic devices. I don’t believe that we will even know the impact of this change in culture in future years because “it is what it is”. But I can’t help but wonder about lost skills such as: listening, eye contact, conversations with good dialogue, manners, and overall just good ol’ conversations where relationships are built. Will anyone in the next generation remember how to write letters or pick up the phone to actually talk? On that note, will anyone remember how to spell simple words such as “are” instead of “r”??? As a former teacher, I am greatly troubled that we are gradually losing good writing and spelling skills because of texting and quick electronic communication. Okay….so this is unrelated to your post, but while I am amen-ing your concern in this area, what are your thoughts for EVERY public place now has music blasting (mostly unpleasant cacophony kinds of noises) and we can’t even really have conversations in public places easily anymore. What has happened to the joy of background silence? Oh goodness, I could go on and on…but I feel like my brain is on sensory overload with all the music in public places, now even on airplanes as you board and you have not even found your seats!! Thanks, Debbie–great reminders for all of us!

  5. Before I read the main point, of putting those cell phones down (which I totally agree with!), I was remembering a certain trip to the Indianapolis Airport back in 1980. I went with Albert and his family up to the airport so he could return to his military base. Although we lived two hours away, I was quite familiar with the route. His family, though, wasn’t used to driving out of the county. When they left the airport in tears, they took the wrong road. I knew it, but I didn’t feel confident enough to say anything and figured they would quickly figure it out. When that didn’t happen, I had to keep still as I had waited too long. Finally, they figured it out and used the CB to call the police who explained how to use the cloverleaf pattern at the next exit to turn around. Surely we would be on the right track now. But, NO! They exited and went down that road. It was a LONG trip home. I believe it took us four hours to get home that day. I can’t think of much I learned from that except for how sick you can get from a muffler that isn’t working. His two sisters and I were all sick when we got out of that car! My mom could smell the exhaust on my coat and that is how we knew what made us sick.

    Now, our cell phones can prevent such an event from even taking place. I just blindly follow Miss Tilly and she takes me where I want to go.

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