Monthly Archives: October 2012

THE GLASS TABLE

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THE GLASS TABLE.

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Radio interview with Michael Castner, The Daily Wrap, Wall Street Journal

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Thank you to Michael Castner of The Daily Wrap, Wall Street Journal Radio Network for his time this week discussing smart phones and how they interfere with relationships. (interview is at 32:24 mins into the podcast)

Recent research in the UK, reported in Scientific American, shows that the presence of a cell phone while two people are having a meaningful conversation significantly affects the trust, openness, and empathy expressed during those conversations; even when the cell phone is in another room. Why?

Because we know it’s there and we’ve become an ‘instant response society’ addicted to knowing what’s going on in our extended world at any given time. Maybe there’s some work issue that needs attention and there’s an expectation that we will respond immediately or maybe someone mentioned us on Twitter or tagged us on Facebook. It’s not much different to an alcoholic who knows there’s a bottle of vodka in the cupboard and is distracted thinking about it.

The fear of being without your phone is now a recognized phobia – Nomophobia, and the number of ‘sufferers’ is on the rise. Why are we so obsessed with our phones?

For some, it’s a security blanket – we feel safer knowing the world, anything we need, is just a fingertip away. For others, we worry about missing out on something if we’re not obsessively checking for messages, emails and notifications – there’s a fear of losing connection with the outside world. And there’s another group who need the continuous endorsement of their ‘self’. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, the encouragement we get in the form of ‘likes’ boosts our self-esteem.

If you constantly have your smart phone plugged into your ear; if you cannot sit through a meal without sneaking a peek; if you are unable to have a conversation one-on-one with the people who are right in front of you because you’re thinking about your online world, then it may be time to establish boundaries for yourself. You can do this by ‘time’ – specifying the times of each day when you will not check your phone or social networks and will instead devote this time, undivided to the ‘real’ people in your life. You could also do it by function ie don’t use your phone while (a) watching TV (b) during meals (c) on someone’s birthday etc. 

There was a time when smoking in restaurants was considered acceptable, but now smoking anywhere is pretty much considered antisocial. Perhaps we’re heading towards a banning of phones in restaurants; maybe that will be a niche offering by some savvy owners who guarantee a phone-free environment for your dining experience. The next time you’re in a restaurant take a look around and see how many couples are actually talking to each other with no sign of a cell phone. Do they look anxious? 🙂

Contact Leigh at:

Website: http://www.leighkcunningham.com

Email: leigh @ leighkcunningham.com

Twitter: @leighcunningham

Facebook: Leigh K Cunningham

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Radio Interview with Larry and John, CBS Pittsburgh

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I had the pleasure this week of talking with the legendary Larry Richter and John Shumway on their morning show on KDKA, CBS Pittsburgh. We discussed the intrusion of smart phones in our lives, and whether talking and texting simultaneously is multi-tasking or just plain rude. You can listen to the interview from their website.

Larry mentioned that his wife, while watching TV together, is usually also on her iPad, and when she misses something critical, she will rewind the show to the appropriate place. Larry did not think this was fair since he is paying attention and can do without the interruption. This approach had not occurred to me primarily because I am rarely in control of the remote control in our household, which can be rectified. My approach, until now, has been to ask my husband, “what did he say?” or “what just happened?” which he also finds annoying for some strange reason.

I actually knew quite a bit about Pittsburgh before the interview because our friends and travelling companions, Donna and Terry live there – born and breed. This means I also know some Pittsburghese. And to ensure we practice our language skills regularly, our friends gave us a Pixburghese talking keychain when we caught up with them in Africa last month. One of those cultural sharings includes, “Yinz are Jag Offs”, which I’m saddened to report my husband now uses, by pressing the key chain button, in response to any and all inquiries aimed at his person. Communication in our household has suffered as a result – or improved, depending on your perspective.

Some quick pointers about the wonderful city of Pittsburgh:

  1. It’s football team is the Steelers (or Stillers in the local dialect), which originates from the extensive steel trade that was the foundation of the city. Pittsburgh has won more Super Bowl titles and AFC Championship Games than any other AFC or NFC team. The Steelers also share the record for most Super Bowl appearances with the Dallas Cowboys. Impressive – now I understand why I ‘follow’ them. Out of interest and sheer irrelevance, my nephew is also contracted to the Cowboys – but it’s the North Queensland Cowboys and the sport is Rugby League (Australia).
  2. The Allegheny river joins the Monogahela river in Pittsburgh to form the Ohio River. Downtown (or Dahn Tahn) Pittsburgh is situated at the confluence of the two rivers, and looks quite spectacular.
  3. According to our friends, it’s the best place in the world, and we absolutely must, and will, get there one day this decade.

Contact Leigh at:

Website: http://www.leighkcunningham.com

Email: leigh @ leighkcunningham.com

Twitter: @leighcunningham

Facebook: Leigh K Cunningham