The Priority of Presence

man on cellphone

Have you ever been in a line at the store and the person at the cash register was on their cell phone while they were making their transaction? Did you notice the look on the cashier’s face and the obvious inability of the person on their cell to pay attention to the transaction and the person on the phone at the same time? Annoying wasn’t it? It was annoying to you, it was rude and disrespectful to the sales clerk and it was slowing up the line!

Back in the day (as my son is so fond of saying) there were written codes of social etiquettes, to which we could refer to in understanding how to eat with the correct silverware and things like that. There were things and behaviors that were universally accepted as being fit and proper. However, in this day and time, it seems that the rule of thumb is; no rules, anything goes!

However, I think the tried and true Golden Rule is still applicable in our modern times: “Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you.” Therefore, in reference to cell phone manners, I would like to propose the practice of the priority of presence. The priority of presence is simply the practice of giving the person in your presence priority over the person in your ear. If the person in your ear (on the cell phone) is important enough to warrant a conversation, then common courtesy dictates delaying any interaction with people in your presence. Now, I know some who might read this might think that engaging in such a practice would severely slow their communication; after all, we all have so much to do with so little time to do it! But, is completing our tasks so important that we consistently de-humanize others and ourselves in the process? Is getting everything done worth doing nothing well?

Now this situation is not much better with people who use ear buds! You think they are walking around talking to themselves! And when they are on the phone and looking in your direction, you think they are talking to you! Many states have banned cellphone use while driving. There is a reason for that: The average person cannot chew gun and walk at the same time! (Smile) Seriously, when one’s attention and focus is divided, operating a vehicle is dangerous! I suggest the practice of the priority of presence while using the cell phone because when one’s attention is divided, it is rude, annoying, and counter-productive for all involved in the communication process!

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