David Harkins

David Harkins

Dr. David L. Harkins is a social scientist researching the human experience in systems and culture. He is an experienced executive coach and consultant, passionate educator, and keynote speaker. Through his teachings, inspiration, and guidance, he helps individuals and organizations identify and connect with their potential to make a meaningful difference in their communities.

The trouble with cellphones

In my travels lately, I’ve come to notice that people will use their cell phones anywhere to talk about anything. I’ve been privy to conversations about lawsuits, financial difficulties, and marital disputes, all thrown out in the open for any wandering ear to hear. It’s not that I’m trying to listen. I try to tune out other conversations, but it’s almost as if my ears (and I’m sure those of others) automatically tune in on words or phrases like, “lawsuit”, “…divorcing him”, “caught her in bed with…” or “I’m filing for bankruptcy”. I’m not trying to be nosy; my ears just can’t help themselves.

For a while, I was embarrassed when I inadvertently tuned in, but then I figured that it wasn’t my fault. If these people were not okay with having others overhear their conversations, they wouldn’t be having those conversations within listening distance of others.

This business of cellphones was the topic of a dinner conversation recently with my friend Roger. Roger has a theory that cell phones have replaced cigarettes as a nervous habit. People pull out their cell phones, call others when they feel bored or need to kill 5 minutes or so, and didn’t plan ahead with some reading material. It’s not that they’re conversations are meaningful when they do this. Most of these conversations, according to Roger, consist of such pleasantries as, “What are you doing? I’m just standing in line, waiting…”, or “Where are you? Oh. I’m in line waiting to buy movie tickets. Really? Which line? Oh, there you are…”

Roger may be on to something with this theory. In the airport the other day, while visiting the men’s room, I heard a cell phone ring and the guy in the stall next to me answered and said, “Hello? Oh, hi. I’m at the airport…just hanging around waiting for my flight…”.

I guess he just didn’t have anything to read.

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