I remember a conversation with my daughter about protocols with certain elements of social media.  In this case, it was Words with Friends.  I had just beat her in a game and so started another.  Apparently, that was a no-no.

Dad, the loser starts the new game.  That way, …

  • they can stop playing with you if they want
  • it’s only courtesy because there’s an advantage going first and that advantage should go to the person who just lost

So, I’ve been told.  Who knew there was a protocol for doing something right?  She did, and now so do I.

This past weekend brought to my awareness of a couple of things that perhaps is screaming that a protocol for these digital assistants is necessary.

Even before the advent of them, technology can be so intrusive.  I remember a person who had the same employer as me and always wore a bluetooth earpiece.  You could be in the middle of a meeting and a call would come in and it was always more important that continuing with the meeting.

And, we all know that it’s only courtesy to set your phone to vibrate when you’re in a public place.  How many times though are you listening to a concert or presentation or something and a phone goes off?

Sometimes, the preoccupation with technology is just fun to watch.  Over the weekend, I was killing some time browsing the PATH in downtown Toronto and watched a person who was more engaged in their device than noticing the fountain that he almost walked in to!

I saw a couple of instances where the digital assistant raised rudeness to a new level.  Imagine sitting with people and one person raises their finger (the teacher gesture to be quiet) so that they could “OK, Google” and get an answer to what they were curious about.

Or, getting on a train to come home thankful for booking early so that you get a window seat only to have the person next to you “OK, Google”ing all the time just asking for seemingly random things.  Fortunately, I had my noise cancelling headphones with me and popped them on to listen to some music while counting the trees until we got to Oakville, hoping he would get off.  Nope, he was there for the whole duration.

Now, you know that I like technology as much as the next person but there is a whole other world out there beyond you and your digital assistant.

Shouldn’t we respect that?

It’s not like you can just ask the person to respect you … that only solves the problem for one person.  It will pop up again with the next person.

I can’t help but think that things are only going to get worse.  What’s it going to take to stop this?  Maybe a reminder that you can always quietly type your query?

How about a proximity sensor?  “There are people within earshot; are you sure you still want to ask me a question?”

Society wants to know.

3 thoughts on “Protocols

  1. This is such an interesting topic, Doug, with such great questions. I think about protocols for technology every day that I go into the staffroom. I always have my iPad with me, and often use the nutrition breaks to upload documentation. If I need to listen to videos, I find a quiet space in the hallway to work (no free rooms at our school), as I don’t want to interrupt others with my videos. And yet, here I sit in a room with many other people, working on a device. I’m not the only one. Almost everyone in the staffroom is staring at a phone or an iPad as they also engage in conversations with each other. For me, this device is my way to escape. I’m always on in Kindergarten, and I like (and need) a little quiet time at lunch. I also like getting my documentation uploaded, so that I’m not doing everything at night. That said, nothing drives me more crazy than being out with a friend, and having him/her reply to a text or take a phone call as we eat. Shouldn’t the person in front of you matter just as much?! But then again, am I doing the same thing in the staffroom each day? Maybe it’s complicated, or maybe I just want to have it all. 🙂 Curious to hear what others think.



  2. I am a huge supporter of the use of technology and strongly believe that we need to both model and teach our children the appropriate use. As parents we model and teach manners, respect and communication protocols for our children. To me the use of technology is our new reality and we need to model appropriate use as well. I know that I am guilty of using my technology in a way to pass time and mindlessly surfing. I do not take phone calls or have my ringer on because I do not like the interruption of the bings and rings of notices going off at school throughout the day. There is nothing that cannot wait a few minutes.


  3. I hadn’t really thought of how the change to using voice to text could change things in public places. I’ve been on Go Transit a fair amount this year, and haven’t noticed the phenomenon yet.
    (people having loud conversations on their phones, yes.) I always remember a story Peter Skillen told about one of his mentors. If you walked into the room, and this person was on their device (usually a desktop of laptop) he would turn away from his screen, and focus directly on you. That’s what we need to do. Direct our attention to the person we are engaged with face-to-face – they still deserve priority attention.

    I, like Aviva, will sometimes use my device to settle myself a little bit in the staff room. However, different staff rooms have different cultures. When I go to visit a friend, at a school I used to teach at, it’s a small staff, in a small staff room (one big table). Devices are heartily discouraged – this is your time to check in with your colleagues and see how people’s days are going. I get razzed when I pull my phone out. Other places, nobody talks to anybody – and everyone’s on their own device. Probably says something about the climate of the school, too.

    I will sometimes, if I’m in a meeting, and know that one of my kids may be contacting me for a pick-up, give the people a heads-up to say that I may receive a text from one of my kids. That’s the only notification I’m going to respond to during that time – nothing else. We do need to model this for our students – it’s extremely important. I also, at the request of my family, turned off the notifications for social media that were constantly pinging on my phone. Now, if my phone pings, I know it’s a text – mostly likely from my family, and I can pay attention to it at the appropriate time. Everything else can wait until I have time to go into the particular app and check it.

    Great questions, Doug – and lots to think about.


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