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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • Kathy’s Conundrums

  • This past week I walked smack-dab into that invisible force field that is migrating through the morals of our society; the demise of social graces through the advancement of technology. I am referring to the use of smart phones over face to face social conversations in social settings. Last week David and I met my 1...
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  • This past week I walked smack-dab into that invisible force field that is migrating through the morals of our society; the demise of social graces through the advancement of technology. I am referring to the use of smart phones over face to face social conversations in social settings. Last week David and I met my 10th grade grandson for lunch. Across the aisle from us was another teenager having lunch with her mom. I had my smart phone out on the table and had used it to show a picture of a testing site that I had monitored earlier in the week. My grandson was texting on his smart phone. Across the aisle both mom and daughter were on their phones, mom talking; daughter texting. I reached across the table and placed my hand on my grandson’s phone. He looked up at me with a confused look on his face like, “What are you doing.” At the same time, David took his cell phone out and laid it on the table and announced, loud enough for the mom and daughter to hear. “Let’s take a moment of silence for our cell phones.” Point made. The ubiquitous technology is creating dystopian situations that are eroding social graces. Here are just a few examples just from last week: Students reactions to not having the use of cell phones or other technological devices during MCA testing. My grandson’s statement, “They took everyone’s cell phone – that’s a dumb rule”; a student in class, looking at me with that, “Who me, deer in the headlight stare,” when I asked him to turn off his iPod during a discussion in class; and a teenager sitting at the dining room table during a family dinner texting instead of engaging in the conversation – the reason he was texting – “old people talk bores me.” What became of being polite? What became of paying attention to others? At first I chalked up the impolite behavior as a personal issue. A few young people who were offending others while putting his/her own personal needs above those around them. I chalked it up to bad behavior. Then I saw a Facebook video. It popped up on my page, sent by Facebook. If you didn’t get it, or didn’t watch it, go to YouTube and type in Facebook Home “Dinner.” The scene is a multigenerational dinner. A selfish girl goes to Facebook Home on her smart phone and completely blocks out the family conversation being shared by an elderly aunt. The use of the smart phone at the dinner table was an undesirable, dehumanizing use of technology. The ad was promoting the decline of social graces as we know them. Over ten years ago I was standing at my classroom window watching the elementary students playing in the school yard. I watched as they formed groups to play games, walked and talked with each other, ran and yelled – they were connecting through face to face effort. I promised myself that I would retire from teaching once the children on the playground stood around texting each other rather than playing together. Now, as a retired teacher coming back to sub, I see the students using the technology in the classroom not to connect, but to escape. We used to teach etiquette and manners in kindergarten. With the technological world promoting the demise of simple social graces, maybe it is time to add a few more lines to Robert Fulghum’s poem “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kinder-garten.” We should include: listen to those you are with; put other people’s needs before your own; turn off your electronic communication device and use the built in communication device God gave you – your brain, your ears and your mouth.

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