Ignore the Phone

There was a buzz in the air at Lincoln Center as we anxiously waited to be escorted to our seats. The lights dimmed, the crowd became silent and the opera was about ready to begin when all of a sudden a cell phone started ringing in the row in front of me. Of course the person was embarrassed and moved quickly to stop the noise, but it surprises me when a phone is not turned off during a performance, especially when an announcement is made to do so at the beginning of the show.

I find it interesting to see where people choose to have their phone conversations. They answer the phone in a crowded café when they are already in the middle of a conversation with friends. They answer phones in elevators, in stores and while walking down the street.

It is entertaining to listen to these conversations. Of course we try to give them privacy, but it is impossible when they are next to us talking on the phone while we are riding a crowded city bus.

One day while I was waiting in the playground to meet my children after school, I overheard a woman casually gossiping on her phone. As soon as her son came outside she continued her phone conversation. The mother didn’t acknowledge the child. She just started to walk out the gate and he reluctantly followed her. This could have been a perfect opportunity for the mother to spend some quality one-on-one time talking to her child as they traveled home from school.

What are we saying to people around us? “This phone conversation is more important than you.” I am the first to admit that a mobile phone is extremely useful. At the same time, I think we need to recognize when things start to negatively influence our lives.

It is a new year. Do something dramatic.

Ignore your phone when you are with friends and family. A face-to-face meeting is much more important than a phone call, text message or e-mail that can be checked later.

Live in the moment. Turn off your phone and enjoy dinner and the opera.

Pay attention to people when you are with them. I assure you the phone will be there later. The friends in the café and the child in the playground may not.

Turn off your phone and make time for chocolate.