Just Let Me Use My Gadgets

Illustration for article titled Just Let Me Use My Gadgets

Lisa at Boingboing—OK, actually, my girlfriend—wrote about our long standing debate about checking email in public. Reading it I felt indignation, and then shame, but in the end I have to yet again disagree.


I know, I've been rude. I've checked email at places like dinner, bars, at morning in bed, while we're in the car, and when people around us start talking about boring things like politics and taxes and religion. I do it when we're skiing on the chair lift. I do it when I'm peeing, when I'm pooing, when I'm walking the dogs and when we go shopping. And when we watch TV or movies at home. Not every minute, but I sneak in a looksie here and there.

And I think these are all great times to check email. Because my job is demanding and if I don't check email all the time in public the only other alternative is to check email all the time from my computer. And really, the alternative reality to me being rude is a life where when shit happens while I'm away from the house, and I have to go running back to a terminal where I can write or edit posts every time something happens. Every time. It would be hell. And so I can live with rude.

Times are changing and the reality is that the social conventions that define when its appropriate to use gadgets in person are going to change, too. But for now there are nay sayers. To them, I'd say that I see these glimpses of work and fun intermingling as a gift; a chance to cheat a job where where work never really stops. So: Even if 5% of my idle clock cycles go to the internet, sapping something from real life experiences everywhere I go, I think it's silly to take the other 95% they've allowed because of wireless access, for granted. I'm never going to stop. And the world will catch up.

This image was lost some time after publication.
This image was lost some time after publication.

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As long as you aren't overtly rude, defined as blatantly ignoring someone that is trying to interact directly with you, then use your gadgets. If what you are doing starts to encroach on other people's time / attention / etc then that is where your rights end. Simple. —- and if you've been distracted by your laptop or other device for a long period of time while you are with someone take a break and have a chat. It's not hard.