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Here’s a game you can play. Next time you are in a restaurant with a group of friends, ask everyone to get their mobile phones out and put them in a pile in the corner of the table. The first one to pick their phone up pays for the meal.


Table (Photo credit: Selbe B)

Sometimes I think it would be really nice to be able to have a conversation looking at someone’s face rather than the top of their heads, as they are craning to read the latest text/twitter/email.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a neat gadget, but I do like to be in control. I dislike being told what do, especially by a machine. There’s a car I use that unless I put the seatbelt on within fifteen seconds of the engine starting, it beeps at me. And keeps on beeping. (“I’d just like to tell you haven’t fastened your seat belt……. Do it up, now…… I’m not sure you have heard me DO IT UP NOW…… NOW…… NOW.”) This annoying little beep telling me what to do. Now I do realise that riding around in a car without a seatbelt on is asking to be flung through the windscreen. Besides of which, it’s against the law. But in a hearse? I ask you.

We’ve got a tumble drier. It beeps to get our attention when it thinks the load is dry. (Usually it isn’t). It beeps every minute demanding our attention. So we have to stop whatever we are doing with family, friends and offspring TO OBEY A MACHINE!!!.

So we go out for a meal with friends and they spend a proportion of the time not being there…but in cyberspace. They are telling you that they’d RATHER NOT BE THERE. (Can you sense a Basil Fawlty rant coming on…) They are being told what to do by a machine and that is the most important thing to them at that moment.

So what has brought this all on? I’ll tell you. I’ve turned my phone off. I’ve gone back in time to the late nineties. I was getting fed up of that ‘dic, dic, dic’ noise coming through on my stereo every few minutes. Plus it’s a work phone. I’m not at work. Not today. I’m not going to be reminded of it. Not today. Try it. I challenge you.

So with the new generation of smart phones we can access Twitter, Facebook, emails and many other things I haven’t even heard of. I’m not against any of them. Clearly. This is after all an electronic blog. I’m writing this sat on the sofa with a laptop watching (or half-watching) Wales getting trounced by Ireland. (I’m trying to get the hang of Rugby as the rest of the family are well into it and I’m feeling left out). My defence is I can be with the children (Briony likes the bit about the drier), instead of sat at a desk in a different room.

I like the way Facebook keeps you in touch with friends. I like texts and emails – the way they are neither verbal comment or written in Queen’s English. But few of these things really demand instant attention. Urgent matters demand a phone call, surely?

It’s not that I’m against technology, I’m against the way it can take you away from the important things of the moment. Life that’s not on a screen.