Engaging Culture

Technology in the Hands of Stupid (or maybe just “Inconsiderate”) People

The overwhelming barrage of technological change is impacting our behavior, and not always for the best.  For instance, people answer mobile phones in the most inappropriate places. My wife, Kathleen, and I attended a wedding recently where a member of the audience refused to take off his wireless Bluetooth earpiece. As the church lights dimmed for the wedding procession, he sat there with the little blue light blinking away in his ear like some cheap disco ball. I wondered what phone call could be so important that he couldn’t even take off his earpiece for the bride’s entrance.

Our close friend Fred Applegate is a respected musical theater performer in major roles on Broadway in shows like The Sound of Music, The Producers, Young Frankenstein, and now Sister Act. One night during a performance, the cast was interrupted by a cell phone ringing in the audience. To the astonishment of everyone in the theater, the patron actually took the call! The actors paused onstage to hear the audience member say in a loud voice: “Hello? No, I can’t talk. I’m at a Broadway show.”

The invasion of technology—especially in the hands of stupid people—is a horrifying thought indeed.  My book “Jolt: Get the Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing” deals with these incredible (and sometimes overwhelming changes and disruptions we’re facing today, and how to actually use them to move our life and dreams forward.

Have you seen any evidence yourself of how technology is changing our culture for better or worse?  Is there anything we can to do change some people’s behavior?

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  1. Unless someone launches and funds a massive nationwide media campaign to bring awareness on cell phone etiquette… which may create some peer pressure for those who just don’t know what bad behavior is exactly, I don’t know how you can change a lack of common sense. We still have the history long complaint of parents who won’t exit the church, theater or restaurant when their babies are crying continuously. I realize the two are a little different, but it boils down to common sense… which isn’t so common.

  2. Nice piece Phil… Concerning your first question — my wife took a weeklong trip last July to visit our son in Texas after being burned in a bonfire mishap. He has two young boys and his wife is the Executive Assistant to the President of Southwest Media Group in Dallas. Our two grandsons are “gamers” like their father and are addicted to playing for hours on end. They all have their own flat-screen televisions to play their games. My daughter-in-law is constantly cruising social media through Facebook — with quite frequent updates from her phone throughout the day.

    Electronic devices — cell phones; as a forerunner it seems, have taken the place of stronger family interaction. This is an invasion to the family unit—and your stated comments about “stupid people” (rude and inconsiderate — lacking “common sense” by MJ’s comments) but it’s so addictively encompassing that you really have to commit to “focus” deliberately in an effort to stay away from its allure; which most fall prey to in their quest to reduce boredom. Everyone wants to be informed “RIGHT NOW” as they might be missing something that is more important than looking into your loved ones eyes, telling them that you “LOVE” them and giving them a reassuring hug of genuine love first.

    Electronic devices have become that plastic “HUG” in our society it seems. People have become brazenly astute with their fervor and attractive embrace for all things electronic. Reading a book is even going the same route with E-readers — making a very strong overbearing presence in the world. Not in the sense of a cell phone that can interrupt and invade; but I think you get my point here. We’re going away from those “old-school” values and virtues, which have always, lent it to a better walk in life; as on a spring day, when your senses are overwhelming alive and such devices are set aside. What can create that feeling within a person to focus on the more nurturing components in our lives before the plasticity of electronic mayhem?

    Concerning your second question regarding behavior modification—well that’s an individual’s choice; as is all things in our lives that we decide to do, or not to do. One would think with all the reports of fatal or near fatal traffic accidents, this would stifle cell phone use to a degree and create a more considerate approach of their invasive use in such places as theatres, churches or other venues where respect should be observed over one’s selfish wants of instant accounts of the world’s activities or another’s want to chat because they just want to talk. All of this can be quickly left on the sidewalk of hypocrisy when you see law enforcement personnel talking on their cell phones while driving; because in California it’s their privilege to do so because they’re exempt—entitled; to be above the law they impose on others for doing the same thing. This is a sticky point with me as I’m former law enforcement. That’s just a bone of contention I had to pick at.

    This electronic invasion will continue to grow at a speed of light pace because that’s where the big bucks are flowing in this faced paced world in which we live. We just need to figure out a way to focus on the positives — first; that they bring and perhaps this energy will lend itself to more considerate folks. One can only hope that then they’ll feel more personal satisfaction from the energy flow it creates. Who can say? Since everything is spiritually based in this Universe of infinite possibilities; approaching it in this light — if one is willing to grasp this effectively — might just move these abusers to feel a change of heart in this regard. It’s a nice thought to express, but it takes positive action on anyone’s part to create such a reality. Thanks for the “soap box” Phil and tossin’ my two cents in the collection plate. Blessings…

  3. At times, I think technology has a negative impact on culture. When people communicate mostly online, they’re missing out on facial expressions and body language. There’s a place for these social networking tools. (I’m a user of many of them). However, it’s also important to set some limits. Disconnect from the computer and engage in some face-to-face time.

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