10/06/2010 09:17 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Just Say 'No' to Your Mobile Device

Recently on mySomeday, I came across A4S4L4 who planned to document a holocaust survivor's story and then did so. We featured this completed Someday on the site and interviewed her about the process.


During that interview, she said that the real moments of connection came during regular visits with her survivor, mobile technology-free. Her belief was that conversations have a life of their own. On many occasions it took time for the survivor to be comfortable enough to share a memory and a mobile device would surely have made it more difficult to stay in the flow of the conversation. Putting aside the obviously compelling subject matter, it struck me that this one woman's effort is a great reminder of the importance of preserving conditions for meaningful face-to-face exchange.

How often are you with someone at a social gathering who has one eye on you and one eye glancing furtively at a blinking red light? Either you're just not that interesting or, more likely, you've fallen victim to a whole new set of addictions: iphoneism, crackberrying, textomania. Mobile technology has made 'connectivity' easier but has made the simple ability to sustain live and meaningful exchange more difficult. Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of mobile technology. Day-to-day planning has become much easier and it's good to know that I can be reached if an emergency should arise. The question is how to balance those advantages against the somewhat trivial updates, emails and texts.

As an experiment, next time you're in a conversation, count how many times the 'ding' or blinking light of a mobile device interrupts the natural flow of that conversation. I recently did this and was a bit surprised by the sheer volume of interruptions and how each interruption is as if someone literally tapped your conversational counterpart on the shoulder.

Perhaps the answer is to occasionally treat time with family and friends like documentarians. Plan a deviceless brunch, enforce a no blackberry policy at dinner, share a coffee and tuck the iPhone away. The unencumbered face-to-face time might just allow you to really connect with the person in front of you and document the moments where they count, in your brain.

But please, whatever you do, don't forget to tweet about it! I'm sure your followers would love to hear how it went.