A recent study by Wilson Electronics, as reported on the social media blog Mashable, found that 15 percent of people take phone calls during sex. 15 percent! Really?
OK, there is always that few percent that will answer their phone at any time, but during sex? Please.
Yet how often does each one of us do the same? OK, most of us may not answer our cellphone while having sex, but how many times do we vacate an in-person conversation with a friend, child or parent, all because our cellphone rings? Why should communication via technology automatically trump whatever communication we are having?
It is one thing if we are expecting an important call; it is quite another when the sheer fact that the communication is coming through a device that we take our attention away from an in-person conversation with our child or friend.
I was at a community table at a restaurant recently and the first 15 minutes of the meal, the man across from me spent on his Blackberry while his girlfriend next to him sat, waiting. It was as if she did not exist. My guess is that he may very well be one of the 15 percent who answer his phone during sex. People who do so are not bad; it's just sad that life has come to this.
The danger of our age is that our presence, our attention, what Thich Nhat Hanh calls "the greatest gift we can give one another," becomes lost as we let our gadgets run our lives. In another study of 6,500 business travelers, 35 percent said they would choose their PDAs or Blackberrys over their spouses. Is it just me, or is something off here?
The great opportunity of our time, however, is not to relinquish our devices (we can, after all, be addicted to anything, and simply switch our addiction from our cellphone to something else); it is instead to live wisely in this time and use these technologies purposefully and meaningfully. When used well, they can be a tool for creating a more just, open and free world.
This is our challenge: to live consciously connected, and create a world that is as wise in inner technologies of mindfulness, wisdom and compassion as it is developed in the external technologies. This involves knowing when our attention truly needs to be directed to our cellphone and knowing, like during sex, when ... well, it is needed to focus on something else.
Soren Gordhamer is the author of "Wisdom 2.0" and organizer of the Wisdom 2.0 Conferences, which unites staff from technology companies such as Twitter, Google and Facebook with individuals from wisdom traditions to explore living with deeper purpose, presence and wisdom in our modern lives. More information can be found at www.wisdom2summit.com.