Woodstock Area Job Bank

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We have a new phenomenon in the world of meetings which I call “Talking to the Phone.”  I am fully aware that businesses have been doing virtual meetings for a long time, complete with streaming interruptions and lost connections. That’s business, and if I’m in Vermont and you are in Beijing it makes sense.  Smartphones and unlimited talk have opened the door to something else entirely.

I went to a board meeting for another non-profit last week and six adults sat around a table listening to the background noise of three cell phones tuned in. One of those phones did all the talking and those of us who were physically present stared at the voice coming out of the small, rectangular phone.

Can you interrupt a phone? When the speaker goes quiet, are they finished or have they lost  service? This phone was driving in Vermont. There were times where we all politely stared at the phone for several beats until someone asked: “ Are you there?” There was a  long delay while we tried to call and reconnect.

Another one of the phones at this meeting was taking a bath.  It was very hard not to be distracted by the sloshing water and sharp crunches of their bathtub snack.

I get it, it’s convenient. I had to drive almost an hour to attend that “meeting.” It would have been easier to sit at home and just tune in. I think it was rude. So, I am taking a stand.  I will no longer attend meetings where I am held hostage by a phone squawking away in the center of a table.

I’m not just railing at technology powered meetings— I laid down the law to my grandkids too. Skype is great and being able to see them— even virtually— more often is wonderful, but I no longer tolerate them walking away during our virtual visits.  If they want to do other things, we say goodbye and can reconnect at a different time.  At first that was difficult for them to understand.  They are digital  kids and can’t imagine why I don’t want to just stay connected for when they pass by.

In planning this newsletter yesterday, I heard the best one yet.  John who is a high school  senior sometimes likes to do homework via Skype with a friend who is now a freshman in college. The other day— while they were connected— she left for class leaving John to…do what?

Don’t get me wrong, I like my cell phone.   I can even laugh that I now have to text my grown children to warn them I am calling, but I draw the line at “Talking to the Phone,”  I have better things to do.

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