Cell phone ettiquette check. This morning on my outbound flight I cleared security and headed for the bathroom. For the second time in two weeks I encountered that most noxious creature – the guy who thinks it is appropriate to chat away on his cell phone while taking care of more personal business.
This wasn’t an urgently expected call with a quick “can I call you back in a couple of minutes” plea. No, this moron was prating on in full baritone about some meaningless bit of office gossip, and on, and on. On the concourse I wouldn’t have noticed it. But in the porcelain echo chamber every nuance was amplified.
As noted in my entries on email etiquette – our tools have changed so dramatically in the last 20 years that our cultural norms are struggling to keep pace. But puleeze, no one has to be 24/7/365 that much. One of the great liberating technologies of the last 25 years is ubiquitous voice messaging. Trust me, if it is important they will leave a message.
We live in a sea of continuous partial attention these days and we desperately need new norms and practices to navigate the barrage of information coming our way.
The good news is that given time our minds are really good at separating signal from noise. One of the most interesting aspects of living right now is that we are in a transition era where most of us haven’t yet figured out how to do that with the endless barrage of information coming our way. It is also one of the most frustrating things about living now.
But don’t bury your head in the sand. This stuff isn’t going away – engage with it but on terms you can live with.
I currently subscribe to 60 RSS feeds. When I started I was looking at about 10 and it took me hours because I hadn’t yet developed filters for how to move through it. I read everything.
Now I find I can get through all 60 feeds in 30-45 minutes. As I have gained more experience with the tools I’ve learned to separate the few articles I want/need to read from the chaff quickly and ruthlessly. Better yet – I get information that is specific to my interests every single day. This has been a huge improvement in my information diet, but for a while it was really overwhelming.
I hope the fellow in the bathroom had a learning moment after he walked out and thought to himself – “gosh I guess that was kind of inconsiderate, better not do that again.” But then again, no matter the technology we’ve always had boors in our midst. Next time I’ve resolved to just hit the flush button repeatedly in range of his microphone.