On the always-connected and hiring said person #wouldntdoit

I keep reading that one must be consistent with what one blogs about. If one is consistent, then the reader is appropriately lulled into a certain expectation bracket, resulting in fewer blog posts that irritate or turn off said reader. Bugger that! I assume that you, stalwart reader, are smart enough to behave in a slightly more intellectual fashion than a baby about to be fed its second meal of solid food. I may be wrong about that but, in any case, onwards!

I was heading for the lift of a busy business hotel recently. As it gently lofted upwards, the three men in the car with me were chatting. One (50s) was obviously meeting the other two (50s and, say, late 20s), who had just flown in to continue some business.

Their conversation had begun while in the lobby and ended at one of the early floors. It was only a snippet and went something like this:

Man A (looking at Man C): You haven’t lifted your face from that phone of yours. (Laughs)

Man B: That’s nothing. You should have seen him on the flight over. I couldn’t get him away from it. He was constantly updating this and checking that. He’s fast on that little keyboard and he hasn’t stopped since we first got on the plane. Not for a minute.

Man C looks up, smiles, says nothing, and continues to check his phone.

If they had been in the car with me for a minute longer, I think I would have asked them, “Why do you all think this is something desirable?”

A young man and an older man from the same company, on the same flight, with hardly any conversation because the young man’s smartphone is stealing all his attention…how is this any indication of skill or experience?

You see, for me, it says the exact opposite. It tells me that:

* the Young Man is perhaps uncomfortable talking to his older colleague for some reason, and/or

* the Young Man is trying to show off how hip and groovy he is by staying glued to his phone for the flight + trip to hotel + trip in lift, and/or

* the Young Man is a FIGJAM* and, in reality, is a rude little turd who never learnt any manners.

If a work colleague of mine stayed on the phone 24×7, stalwart reader, I wouldn’t think s/he’s busy or important. I would think s/he’s a prat with a dependency problem. Not even able to put the phone aside for, oh let’s say, ninety seconds in order to talk to the people he’s travelling with/meeting? How is that a positive trait?

My mind then went wandering. What if Young Man and I were due to meet Someone Important and I got unavoidably detained? Could I rely on Young Man to behave in a more mature fashion than a lovestruck teenager compulsively checking for an SMS from his loved one? Not from what I saw.

What if we travelled to a country without dependable internet access? Would he concentrate on the job at hand or would he, instead, obsess about wifi hotspots and how to get to the nearest one?

While he is so busy texting while getting out of a taxi and texting while getting into a lift, would he also attempt texting while crossing a busy road and get run over as a result? Most probably.

In all three cases, the end result was the same. I would need someone else to pull Young Man’s cojones out of the coals. In which case — and, really, this is true no matter how “brilliant” I thought him — in which case, why hire Young Man in the first place? Which would you prefer for a customer/partner-facing position: someone who aced every one of his exams but who can’t even exchange half-a-dozen words with someone he’s supposed to be working with, or someone who did perhaps only a little above average but is personable and able to carry on an intelligent conversation with anybody? For the sake of my own workload as that person’s co-worker/superior, I know which one I’d choose.

I’m sorry for the length of this post but I suppose the vignette I witnessed bothered me than I care to admit. We are starting to put so much reliance and importance on the “social media” aspect of our lives that we’re completely ignoring the critical “social” aspect of it. The “media” is obscuring reality and we are all the poorer for it, as Young Man clearly illustrates. This is not the way we should be moving but, unfortunately, such descent appears to be locked in. Quel dommage!

Have a safe and social weekend, and I’ll catch you next week.

* FIGJAM = that wonderful Aussie acronym that stands for Fuck I’m Great, Just Ask Me!

PS Not that I think it matters, as it’s a global problem, but the three men in question were all European.

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