Invasion of the iPod People

Recently I took my family to dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant.

While we were waiting to be served, my wife was busy checking fabric samples on her mobile (she is a home stager).

My older son was engaged with some app on his new iPhone.

My younger son was busy listening to music on his iPod.

I, not possessing any of these devices, was left with no one to talk with, twiddling my thumbs — alone for all practical purposes, despite the 3 other people at my table.

What an odd digital world we live in.


45 thoughts on “Invasion of the iPod People

  • I feel your pain, Bob. Would it be terribly difficult to ask that your family “disconnect” whenever they all have the opportunity for the four of you to sit down before/during/after dinner? While I love gadgets and technology, I look around everyday and wonder if we are creating a huge society of self-absorbed digital narcissists.

  • I hate it. My daughter, age 10, thinks I’m the world’s worst Dad because I refuse to get her a cell phone. Won’t consider it until she turns 13.

    Went to a coffee shop the other day. Everyone, without exception, was focused on either a laptop or smart phone. Very quiet in that room. It’s unnatural to sit in a room full of people and not interact with one another.

    I miss the old days when people struck up conversations with other people they didn’t even know.

  • I’m one of the rare 30 year olds of this generation that refuses to receive or send texts via cell phone. I don’t have the application to do it, nor am I getting it. I’m likely not going to get a Blackberry, Blue Tooth, or iPod. I just don’t want to be “connected” all day!

    I’ve literally told people sitting across from me at dinner tables in restaurants and diners that if they continue to speak or text on their mobile device, when it is they who asked me to go out to eat, that I’ll do one or more of three things:

    1) (If I’m the driver) I’ll leave them there either before I order or after I finish eating; they’ll be stuck paying the bill.
    2) I’ll sit at another table and eat myself.
    3) I’ll be inclined to lose my temper and create a huge stink for everyone to look at.

    You happened to write a blog post on something that is a pet peeve of mine – inappropriate mobile device usage.

    Though I love it as a whole, some of the elements of this digital age thoroughly irritate me!

  • I use an iPhone. I love it. I enjoy being connected “all the time”. I’m 36.

    I’m not sure what everybody else’s unique situation is. I don’t like wholesale condemnation of mobile device use.

    I agree, it is rude to continuously ignore family by talking on the phone or surfing, checking Twitter, Facebook, etc, or carrying on phone conversations.

    But what about those time when NOBODY is talking? Those are the gaps in which I take my iPhone out to check something. I check, and put it away.

    While I am with other people, I ignore everything but text messages or calls from my wife.

    Bob, have you tried starting the conversation? In my case, when I’m out with my wife and her family, they can sit at the table for what seems like hours without anybody saying anything.

  • Eric – I don’t think anyone is saying that you should stop using these wondrous devices. The problem that I’m seeing is overuse.

    Not long ago, I was having dinner at a local restaurant. Nearby there was a young family of four – two professional looking parents with two young boys that looked to be under 6 yrs old. It was one of the boy’s birthday by the look of things. Throughout most of the meal, the Mom & Dad both were engrossed in their respective smart phones tapping furiously at the screens.

    The boys were pretty much ignored and I found that sad.

  • Me have no iPhone neither… 🙁

    These devices are makeing us NOT talk to each other, and when we do it’s in broken 4 to 5 sentences…

    I remembered in the past when we wanted to “play”… that meant a run straight down to the playground and making friends with enough people so we can play tag (or in our country its called “Police and Thief” which was elaborate with lines drawn as to where we could hide, objectives and out witting the police)…


    Let’s go “play” means “3 waying” on a multiplayer game at home. sheesh.

    When I have family time in the future, these devices will be banned, for about 3-4 hours total, before – during – after.

  • I dunno…The more people rely on electronic content in their daily conversations, the more businesses will want to coax those conversations their way, and the more written content they need to interject themselves into that electronic “cocktail party.” Bad news for person-to-person interaction, perhaps, but good news for a freelance copywriter. 🙂

  • I may have everyone beat. I’m 33 and I don’t even have a cell phone. Period. I’m a new age Luddite and proud of it.

  • When you go to a restaurant with family and friends, they all take out their mobile phones and place them on the table. Nobody even bothers to keep the phone in a pocket or handbag anymore.

    Within two minutes of “the laying of the phones,” the texting and taking/making calls begins.


  • We’re texting, IM-ing, checking the IPhone. We’re also loading up the Ipod, WHILE texting, IM-ing and checking the Iphone.

    Are we getting any work done?

    I do like the idea that this can create my opportunities for us copywriters, however.

  • Mele: I don’t see this as creating much work for copywriters. People do their own texting and IM-ing. Of course, copywriters do create mobile ads.

  • Hi Bob,

    I resisted cell phones (and people having immediate access to me) as long as I could but got my first cell in 1998 when my employer told me to either meet him at the phone store to pick one out or it would be on my desk the next morning. Since then I have to admit that the cell phone, lap top, etc. have made my life better because of how I work virtually. In 2005 (4 years into my freelance career) I got rid of my office phone and only use a cell. I try to develop an e-mail culture with my clients and my phone ringing has remained managable to date.

    On the personal side however, we have to constantly place conditions on technology usage for the family. One of the best examples is in my car. I have boys who are hard-core soccer players – one has already earned a college scholarship, another made the Florida state team, etc. Bragging aside we spend hours in the car for soccer travel. One rule we made for weekday practice runs is no ipods or headphones allowed in the car. If you want music you have to listen to the community radio (i.e. the one in the dash of my SUV, usually turned to country because it is the one genre we agree on) or better yet, you have to participate in the conversation. This goes for my boys and any car pool ride-alongs.

    The results have been outstanding. We have engaging discussions on many subjects, hear updates from school, discuss news and politics, etc. Sometimes adults are simply listening to teenage discussions, sometimes we are all participating together – and on rare occasions teens might actually be listening to sage advice from adults. Good stuff.


  • I was a middle school and high school teacher for some years. I also train horses and dogs. These experiences, along with my formal masters degree schooling in counseling, continue to prove to me that the young mammal needs a leader, the ALPHA, if you will. They actually crave routine and guidance, because the world is so unpredictable. Bob, you are the leader of your mammal pack AND you are picking up the tab, not only for dinner, but for your family’s cell phone bills. Get some cajones and let them know that “He who holds the gold, makes the rules.” Believe me, after the dirty looks and petulant sighing, they will respect you more for it.

    And, Eric, in an earlier comment, maybe your wife and family are silent and staring at dinner because they are all staring at you gabbing on your cell phone, hoping you will take a hint.

  • Personally, I’m just like them when I first had all my gadgets. Yes, I’m too busy enjoying any of my gadget even I’m with my family. I let them talk and act like I’m not with them. LOL

  • I love having different gadgets especially if these hi-tech gadgets are something to do with music. Since I really love hearing music all the time whatever I’m doing, wherever I go.

  • I want to lose my patience with people who do this, too. However, one of the friendliest, most decent people I’ve ever met has become a CrackBerry addict. She is constantly texting, even when out with other people.

    So, I try to keep in mind that otherwise considerate, kind people can get addicted to this practice. That helps me more tactfully phrase requests for them to CEASE typing while we’re hanging out.

  • I must admit that technological devices eat up almost all of my time for family and friends. If I’m not using my PC or laptop for browsing, I’m using the internet of my mobile phone. Really, no chance to spend a wonder day with my family, but now, I’m trying to change everything.

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