Floyd and Mary Beth Brown

Young people aren’t the only ones who have the problem. Some adults are compulsive “multi-taskers.” These individuals not only are unable to sit through a meeting or attend a presentation, but can’t play with their children without checking their email or text messages.

With nearly one billion text messages sent a day, rules of etiquette are starting to be addressed since texting is so prevalent in society.

“I don’t think people should be texting in situations where people deserve to be listened to,” said etiquette expert Caroline Tiger. “People shouldn’t have to be in a conversation or looking out at a group and see people with their heads bowed clicking away on their cell phone or BlackBerry. A lot of people are annoyed by it. It’s something that we’re only just beginning to figure out, how to deal with it.”

Reminders for those attending movie theaters, churches and other public events to turn off their cell phones so not to ruin the experience for others is widespread. However, lately this admonishment is now being extended. With the help of a character from a soon to be released movie, AMC Lowes theaters use the voice of Kung Fu Panda to tell patrons: “No cell phone, no talking, no texting. You don’t think it makes a sound? It does. I hear it-click, click, click, click, click.”

Except it’s not only noise that disturbs others. “It’s bothersome because the screen is so bright, we ask people to take it outside,” said Ben Schuler, manager of a smaller movie theater.

“People are under the illusion that other people don’t notice,” Tiger says. “They think they are wearing some sort of invisible cloak, but they’re not.”

What’s paradoxical about this phenomenon is that instead of being conducive to relationships, it can act like a barrier, as it did for the uncle and the teenagers we mentioned.

In this world of technology and text messaging, the title of the 1970s song comes to mind with good advice, “Love the one you’re with.” Let’s make sure with all the convenience and fun of these gadgets, our attention remains in the here and now focused on “the one you’re with.”

Floyd and Mary Beth Brown

Floyd and Mary Beth Brown are both bestselling authors and speakers. In 1988, working from their kitchen table, they formed Citizens United.
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