Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Fri, Sep 29 2006

Technology, cell phones and multi-tasking

I have a tac pin that is a road runner, because I tend to move quickly and always have several things going on at once. So when Techdirt pointed to a bit from Computerworld, I put aside the 3 other things I was doing to go check it out.

I'm always one of the first people to appreciate the idea of multi-tasking. I would still say, without knowing all the details of the study, this article sounds as though family behaviors, rather than individual behaviors, were the focus of the study. This probably involved a lot of different technologies, but the article seemed to mention cell phone use, in particular.

I do see a lot of people exchange cell phone calls with their children and spouses, but I also see and hear people talking on their cell phones while they're in a drive-through restaurant line, in a medical waiting room, or in some other place where one would typcially be interacting with the people who are actually physically present at that moment. A lot of individuals grab their ringing phone as though they had no choice but to answer it, which makes me wonder if this particular technological advance has become somewhat of a compulsion for certain users.

I also see a lot of people pick up their cell phone, call someone, and ask what they're doing. This isn't the same (to me) as asking someone how they're doing. It's a little nosy-sounding and intrusive, which might be find if you're checking up on the thirteen-year-old at home. But I hear this same phrasing in calls people make to other people who are not their children.

This whole notion of being able to reach out and touch someone who isn't there with you seems to be encouraging at least some callers to behave in ways that would be taboo in a face-to-face conversation.

All that having been said, I love being able to simmer stew, dry a load of laundry, listen to music and do research on the internet all at the same time. But if you call me on your cell phone in the midst of all that and I do happen to answer, you need to ask if I have some time to talk instead of asking me what I'm doing. The former will be considered thoughtful and polite. The latter could get you pegged as presumptuous.

posted at: 12:40 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

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