Two scenarios observed, and one reported, on the same day.
Walking behind three visitors to Old Aberdeen, who were wandering three abreast on the pavement. They are engaged in conversation with each other when one is called on their mobile. He answers, just as a second mobile rings and she too answers. Leaving the third, who promptly took out her mobile, punched a number and started talking. Three people move from one conversation with each other to three conversation with three different other people. But then they start talking to each other again, while each is still on their phone. Is this a modern parable of the tower of Babel, or is this the evolution of multiple conversation?
Walking in Crathes Castle we come across a woman playing cricket with her son. He is bowling and she knows how to handle the bat. Half an hour later we are walking past again, this time the boy is batting and mum is - well mum is bowling, while talking to someone on her mobile (not hands free!). Now I don't know a lot about cricket - but I think when bowling, the non bowling arm is supposed to come down before the bowling arm, to allow balance, alignment and accuracy. Anyway, the lad was becoming frustrated because mum is multi-tasking instead of paying attention to the fine art of bowling. The mobile conversation is more important than attentiveness to her son.
Talking with a friend later the same day about a minister who last week was leading a half day church conference. At the time for quiet prayer together in which the participants had been asked by the minister to reflect on the significance of listening to God, the minister was observed thumbing away on his Blackberry.
All of which makes me ask - when the choice is between a person and a mobile, which is to be given priority? I know - there is also a person at the other end of the mobile. Yes - but that just makes me ask the same question another way - how important is it for us to be present to those who are in our presence? Including God, who as far as I know doesn't require ICT to speak - just our attention. By the way, this post isn't an apologia by a luddite, or a swipe at technology as such - just some shared observations on changing patterns of behaviour that seem to me to have important implications for our practice of what used to be called courtesy.