Monday, July 14, 2014

Resisting the temptation to plug in

I'm spending too much time on my phone doing unnecessary things and it's affecting my attention span. I realized this while I was doing exactly what I try to keep my students from doing: Tuning out conversations to use the phone.

This weekend I was in a pension in Pyeongchang with the other Gangwon-do coordinators. It was Sunday morning and C the game fiend got me and several others to play the game Smash Up with him. I'd never heard of this game before and listened intently when he explained how to play it. He went over everything like a pro. He walked us through each turn, explaining what each card could do and why. Slowly but surely, a rhythm developed.

And there was a lull in the gameplay and I pulled out my phone to--of all things--check emails and messages. Why? Just because, I guess. I have no real reason here, for even if I had gotten emails, I dislike typing on the phone's tiny keypad and dislike reading the tiny letters on its screen even more. Not only that, but I was missing valuable information about the game. My mind couldn't handle email and the Smash Up conversations at the same time. I was exhibiting the same behavior I deplore. There we were, friends and colleagues, and I was tuning out. What rudeness. C never said anything, but I knew that fiddling with the phone wasn't good.

I put the phone away. The messages and emails could wait...not that there were any, anyway. Everything Internet-related could wait. The game and the conversation were what mattered, because they were with people I rarely see face to face. These are people whose advice has helped immeasurably in teaching and being a District Coordinator. They matter. The conversation matters. I unplugged and returned to the game. We would all be leaving before noon and it was best that I not waste our time together.


The temptation to plug in is strong these days. I deleted all the emails from my phone and unsync'd the accounts. There is no need to check them on the phone. Anything important can be done on the iPad or the computer. 

It's time to go to school now. Today's goal is to knock down all six classes, prepare for tomorrow, and minimize time spent in front of screens.


  1. Hi Chewie6577,

    I totally resonate with what you say here. The temptation to plug in and enter the virtual world is simply irresistible. The more I go there, the more I miss it when I leave. I believe this vice needs to be treated like any other type of drug; it needs to be taken away from me for some time. Then I can fully realize and enjoy the beauty of the life I don't live.

    I don’t have a smartphone but I spend a lot of time on my laptop. More than I’d wish to. I can empathize with people constantly fiddling with their phones but I don’t approve of their behaviour; perhaps because I’m jealous – they are not there with me, they are with somebody else. It’s even more ridiculous when two friends sit together quietly tapping the tiny device. I understand why they do it but I feel sorry for them and for all of us. Thanks for this post.


    1. Thanks for stopping by and posting the thoughtful comment.
      Yes, I too am concerned about how "they are not there with me, but with someone else." The distance is palpable. Actually, your words brought to mind a cartoon a high school student drew for a newspaper-poster. I'll have it post it.

      I remember a friend's birthday party in Seoul and how a few of her coteachers from her school (hagwon) came by. I was excited to meet and chat with them, but the conversation stalled after a minute or so. All three of them took out their phones and started chatting with their friends. Once the phones came out, I knew I didn't stand a chance. They were in the room, but they weren't mentally there. They were one their phones telling someone else about where they were and what they were (or weren't doing). It's hard not to take such behavior as rude. Unfortunately, the rudeness is only growing, it would seem.