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Ban the Mobile

In the 1960s and the 1970s it was “ban the bomb”. This was the popular and catchy anti-nuclear slogan. A half century later my slogan for the “tens” (twenty-ten that is). It is simply “Ban the Mobile”, and other similar wireless devices.

I recently conducted a series of training courses and seminars in a major city and was downright put out by the number of participants whose lives seem now to be dominated by and revolve around that palm sized oblong of metal and plastic that has become an icon of our culture.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not anti-technology. In fact the opposite is true – I am a technophile.  I really love the stuff and try to keep up to date with all that is new, using it and adapting it I any which way that I can.

But, I do know when to draw the line.

What really got my goat (going back to my training courses and seminars) was the number of folk attending who were at any given moment busy checking their e-mails or sending messages or the like. I was really taken aback!

Firstly guys (and girls too), what you are doing is rude in the extreme. It is highly disrespectful to engage in something else when you are being spoken to. You wouldn’t ignore your boss, to play with your e-mail, if he addressed you. Neither would you waste your boss’ time and money to his face. Yet that is exactly what all these offenders were doing. 

I really wonder how many of these people, who are so tied up in their own little worlds, are making market shaking decisions that simply could not wait just a little longer – to the tea break perhaps?

Secondly what you are doing is a total waste of time – yours and mine.  It has been proved that the whole concept of “multi-tasking” is a fallacy. People can really only do one thing effectively at any given time. Any other concurrent activity will suffer as a result of trying to double or treble up.

So these folk who were so busily scrolling through their messages while I was lecturing them might as well have stayed at the office or frankly just stayed at home! Just think about the totally incompetent manner in which these people must run their jobs (and their lives).

Thirdly, to prove the point that I have just made, they missed all the important pieces of information that I was trying to get across to them. I know that many of the important issues were missed simply from some of the asinine questions and comments made in the post course evaluation questionnaire.

It really riles me is when people complain that this subject or that topic was not covered when it actually was and the complainant who was so busy with their Blackberry or whatever simply missed the item when it came up. 

It’s high time that a little bit more consideration is given as to how people should be behaving in group situations vis-à-vis their work requirements. The often repeated mantras of having to be available 24/7 or having to respond to queries within thirty minutes are so much bunkum! If this was the case these people should be chained to their desks permanently (which would delight me no end).   

If adults are going to behave like children, they should be treated like them too! We cannot punish them or put them in the corner or make them leave the room, but we can use technology to achieve the same end. I would dearly like to see a more active use of mobile signal blocking technology at conference and seminar venues.







Comments: (2)

Elizabeth Lumley
Elizabeth Lumley - Girl, Disrupted - Crayford 15 March, 2010, 10:11Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Stanley, it is a shame you did attend the Digital Money Forum last week in London. Ignacio Mas from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave an inspirational (as a cynical journalist, I do not say that lightly) talk about brining formal financial services to the world's poor. ( a blog is forthcoming).

Those services are delivered, more often than not, through the mobile phone.

1.6 billion people live on less than $2 a day (and that does not include their dependants) only 10% of those have access to formal financial services.

Ban the mobile if you wish - but one man's annoyance, is another man's lifeline to financial stability and survival.

John Dring
John Dring - Intel Network Services - Swindon 15 March, 2010, 14:47Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I'm afraid it really is modern day work practice, and we have to adapt what we consider to be 'rude'.  Really, why should it offend you if someone makes the decision to attend to a message - the person they are responding to no doubt expects their immediate attention these days - since email is used like IM!  They may not be making world changing decisions, but perhaps they consider those decisions as being higher priority - let's face it, life now is simply about prioritisation because we cannot do it all. 

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