Dr. Ducharme’s Blog July 22, 2019 Phone Etiquette, Mindfulness and Privacy

July 22, 2019
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Recently I had a manicure. It was a lovely 40 minutes carved out of my day. I chatted a bit with the manicurist. True, English was not her native language, but we certainly could communicate. When we were not talking, I took time to breath and relax.

I noticed that the woman next to me had 2 phones in front of her. During her entire manicure she used one hand and then the other to do something on at least one of her phones. There was no eye contact between her and the manicurist unless the manicurist needed an answer to something. As I sat under the nail dryer for a few minutes, another woman sat down to let her toenails dry after a pedicure. Her phone immediately came out and she continued to look at it even while having a neck massage! After the massage she thanked the woman and said it was lovely. I frankly was not sure how she could have noticed. But, then, I may have a bias…massage is always sacred for me! I have watched women take their cell phones into the room for a massage while at a spa saying their kids might need to reach them. How did we get to a place where we believe that our kids can’t be out of touch for even short amounts of time? Or is it really about us?

These women may have had very important reasons why they could not let go of their phones for even 3 minutes. I can’t judge. But I can wonder why we can’t disconnect from our devices for even short periods of time. And I can wonder why these parents complain that their kids are spending too much time on their electronics. Our kids do what we do…not what we say!

These women, however, were not really annoying anyone else. On the other hand, how many times have we (women) been in a public restroom and realized the person in the next stall was talking to someone on the phone. Aside from the gross factor, I don’t really need or want to hear other people’s conversations when I am in the bathroom. Sometimes, the bathroom is one place we can hope to have peace and quiet, if only for a few minutes! I do see some humor in the fact that we all seem to worry about privacy issues/our phones and computers being hacked and yet we talk about all kinds of private things loudly while on our phones in public places. Do we not understand that most of the world is not deaf.

Anyhow, I would like to send a challenge out to you all. The next time you go to pull out your phone while receiving some sort of spa treatment, using the bathroom or engaging in some behavior that would normally be thought of as relaxing or  private, think again. Ask yourself what will happen if you let go of your phone and enjoy or just participate in whatever you were about to do. Do you get anxious or can you be comfortable remaining very present in the moment. If you feel anxious and can’t push yourself to let go of the phone, you may want to talk with a psychologist about learning the importance of being present, enjoying the moment and learning to relax.