As the phone call increasingly becomes an antiquated form of communication, text, instant message and email conversations have stepped in to fill the void, enabled by the ubiquity of our digital devices. And while the distraction of one-sided eavesdropping might be a thing of the past, the NY Times wonders if these new methods of chatting are any less offensive to those not “listening” in.
Regardless of your own feelings on the matter, it appears that smartphone use – anytime, anywhere – is gaining growing acceptance within the business community. In a connected world that thrives on immediacy, the prevailing attitude appears to be something along the lines of “now or never,” meaning that ignoring an email for 15 minutes might translate into a lost opportunity.
From the perspective of Business 101 this makes some sense, but still it’s hard not to think that our very participation in this accelerated culture, isn’t collectively feeding into this current belief. What about the things we’re missing out on by forgetting to look up from our screens?
But as the Times posits, maybe it’s less about actual negotiations and transactions and more about the image of them. We particularly liked the following Wild West metaphor:
Beyond practical considerations, there is also the issue of image. In many professional circles, where connections are power, making a show of reaching out to those connections even as co-workers are presenting a spreadsheet presentation seems to have become a kind of workplace boast.
Mr. Brotherton, the consultant, wrote in an e-mail message that it was customary now for professionals to lay BlackBerrys or iPhones on a conference table before a meeting — like gunfighters placing their Colt revolvers on the card tables in a saloon. “It’s a not-so-subtle way of signaling ‘I’m connected. I’m busy. I’m important. And if this meeting doesn’t hold my interest, I’ve got 10 other things I can do instead.’ ”