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Technology Committee

Techlectic ... by Pat Hoover

     Simone John-Vanderpool, my sharp young summer intern, is weighing in for me this month with her refreshingly insightful take on safe and sound smartphone practice. While targeted at attorneys, I'm certain on reading them, you’ll agree that Simone’s “Rules” are perfect for all of us regardless of career affiliation!     
Some Rules for Common Smartphone Courtesy
     Smartphones. They’re everywhere.  From the moment we wake up in the morning and check the weather until the evening we spend playing Ellen DeGeneres’s “Heads Up” game with our families, smartphones are dominating every spare second we have to offer them. Apps like snapchat, instagram, and Facebook encourage their pervasive presence by demanding immediate feedback through pictures and posts. They allow us to scroll endlessly through our friends’, our community’s, and our organizations’ media output.  Now, does this mean that we should be ashamed of how technology has taken over our lives? Ehh..maybe a little. Does this mean that we should burn our phones in protest and sack the CEOs of Apple and Google? Of course not! Whether or not we like it, smartphones are the future and are becoming more and more integral to the basic functions of our society.


   As a rising high school senior who, unfortunately, does not have a smartphone, I can testify to the fact that I have often been at a disadvantage in the classroom because of the absence of one of these devices.  They easily allow students to fact check themselves (and their teachers) during class, and they can serve as a super speed, all-in-one dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia. No doubt they are important to small and large businesses as well. Apps like Clio and Google can organize entire offices as well as store several years worth of files, which might have otherwise been lying around collecting dust and storage costs in scores of cardboard boxes. 
     Because smartphones are so important to our lives, we have to learn how to use them in an appropriate manner. Now, I know what you’re thinking; “I already know when and when not to use my smartphone”.  But do you?  According to a report by Informate Mobile Intelligence, the average American spends 4.7 hours a day on his or her smartphone.1  And who can honestly say they haven’t at least sneaked a peak at a text message or notification while driving?  If you haven’t, feel free to sit back and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you practice every item on this list.  So here are some tips for common smartphone courtesy.
1. Don’t use your smartphone to check social media in a meeting with two or more people
     If you think the Titanic is sad, then you haven’t seen two people on a “date” silently scrolling through their social media accounts or worse, one person completely absorbed in their phone while the other awkwardly plays with his or her fork. I know that I am in no position to give most of you relationship advice, but this isn’t relationship advice. Plainly speaking, spending time on the phone during time that has been set aside specifically to talk and get to know someone is rude, and it will make the person you are with feel unimportant. One of my biggest pet peeves is trying to have a conversation with someone while they are using their smartphone. This is critical in business consultations because clients do not stay with businesses that don’t care about them. However, you should use your smartphone to take down important information. Finding an app to help you organize your business meetings can be very beneficial, just remember to remain focused on the client.
2. Take advantage of your smartphone’s easy accessibility to promote your business and to capture memorable moments.
     The best attribute of a smartphone is that it makes taking photos, using the Internet, and linking them together incredibly simple. One device has the power not only to snap photos in less than a second, but also the power to upload those photos to e-mail and social media with the tap of an icon.  In my personal experience, businesses that kept a steady flow of pictures, posts, and comments on their social media accounts or websites made me feel like I understood them more and eventually peaked my curiosity enough for me to like their pages (since I’m in high school, that is about all I can do). However for potential, adult clients, it might just make them do more than like your page.  So if you think there is a moment worth capturing and sharing, for example, a picture of you and your team after finishing a successful case, then don’t be shy and share it. You never know who is watching.
3. Don’t use your smartphone during any important event, unless asked to by the event host
     Unless you are taking down someone’s information, you probably should skip using the smartphone at a high-end conference or gala. There is nothing more embarrassing than getting caught not paying attention, and getting called out on it subtly by a superior. Even if smartphone usage is your go-to method to escape awkward situations, it more often than not will appear rude or worse, anti-social. Instead, try to remember to use the time at your event to talk to people, and network. Most people are more drawn to those who are socially adept, and those connections may do wonders for your business!
4. Assign A “Designated Texter”
     Texting while driving is a serious health risk, not only for you but everyone around you.  Unlike phones with keyboards that you can memorize, smartphones rely on touch screen technology communication. When you check a notification from your smartphone, there is no avoiding taking your eyes off the road in order to check it. Anyone who drives knows that it only takes a moment of distraction to result in a car accident. No text message or notification is worth your life. An alternative way to stay updated on all of your notifications while in the car is to assign a “Designated Texter”. If you have a passenger, ask them to send responses and read notifications. That way, you never have to put yourself at risk to stay notified. If you would like your messages to stay private, then you might just have to wait.
     Smartphones are the way of the future. Daily we walk around with super computers in our hands, there to answer our every question and satisfy our every need. However, having phones with such awesome powers of instant gratification can come at a cost, socially, as we find ourselves more and more consumed by the entertainment provided by our phones. In order to adapt to our changing technological climate and still maintain our health, we have to set standards of use.  Remember, our phones were meant to build relationships, not to hinder them.
1"Informate Mobile Intelligence First to Measure Smartphone Usage Internationally, Report Currently Tracks 12 Countries and Will Expand to 25 by the End of 2015." N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Aug. 2015.


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