We’re all becoming slaves to technology, but some people are taking it to extremes. Are you committing any of 2015’s big phone faux pas?
The walking disaster
You can use a phone and you can walk, but you shouldn’t always do both at the same time.
Look around and it’s easy to spot someone strolling absent-mindedly as they use their phone, the moment when they bump into an oncomer and even drop their handset as imminent as the next sunrise.
The city can sometimes look like a street full of walking dead, with people’s gazes focused on the touchscreen block in front of their faces and not on the beautiful things around them. Watch them mash into poles, garbage cans, other people. It’s hilarious.
Until that other person is you.
That’s because when you weave to avoid of one these zombies there’s a chance their peripheral vision doesn’t kick in the way you’d expect to. They will side step in synch with your weaving, forcing you to execute a triple walking shuffle loop to avoid them.
Fail in this manoeuvre and the ensuing clang of bodies is exactly how technology shouldn’t be used to help connect people.
The silent meal
There once was a time — we think it might have been the ’50s — where people sat for dinner and joined in conversation. The talk may have been academic, gossip, opinion or just the general trivialities of life. Regardless of what it was, it involved words, and people looked at your face when these were exchanged.
These days, though, meals are a quieter affair.
When you sit down for dinner with someone, there’s a good chance you won’t be the exclusive focus of his or her attention. Their eyes will be diverted to the phone or tablet screen resting on the table, and they will be chewing their food while digesting information from Facebook, Twitter, or a website or two.
Now, you don’t need to stop online socialising, but the dinner table should be a real-world experience, rather than one split between the real and the virtual world.
By all means, seek permission from your dinner partner if you want to take a call or check a message, but make an effort not to constantly be on your smartphone. Because real-life is better, and that’s true even when the company you’re keeping isn’t as interesting as your Twitter feed.
The constant selfie
It’s fun to grab the odd self-portrait, but there’s really no call to snap selfies everywhere you go.
Famous icons – outside the Opera House, near the Pyramids of Giza – or mugging alongside a celebrity make for ideal selfies, but images of yourself at the weekend footy game, on a park bench or in the tinned food aisle at the supermarket that fill your collection of self-centric images (which no-one is interested in), those you can probably just forget about.
The awkward selfie
Equally as annoying as the constant selfie is the awkward selfie.
The subject of the awkward selfie is that person who gets in the way of everyone else. In their eagerness to be the centre of focus, ‘The Awkward’ photobombs your perfectly framed shots of tourist attractions, leans across you to place themselves front and centre of the big game.
We’ve seen it in art galleries — standing in front of that Picasso to get a selfie really helps to get the point of Cubism across — and there are people even doing it in bathrooms (WHY?!). Waiters and waitresses need to stop working temporarily for people taking selfies in the middle of restaurants, and good luck getting past some customers in stores who for some reason feel a selfie makes sense in front of a rack of clothing.
Sometimes it’s just the carrying of the selfie stick, which can become awkward for just getting in your way when you’re trying to see something, a long metal stick with a reasonably large phone at the end obscuring the view of a band or someone speaking, all just so someone can get a top-down photo of themselves at the event.
Other times it’s people with the tablet, and that whole need to take a picture using the massive viewfinder that is a 7 to 10 inch screen, with the tablet just getting in the way of everything everyone else sees. And you can see them holding that tablet in front of them, and it’s just in the way, like so many things.
Some of these places probably don’t need a photo of you at them, though, and so if you feel yourself reaching for the phone or selfie stick when people are trying to partake in a bit of shopping, eating, or art viewing, take a breath, relax, and remember things the old fashioned way: with your memory.