Power Up: Turn Off the Cell Phone

Years ago, I worked for an executive who, when I pointed out the desktop computer in his new office, responded “Oh, that will make a nice doorstop.” He’d never learned to type, much less use a PC. His father apparently had given him the advice that if he took a job with typing as one of the duties, he’d always be stuck in that sort of position. Never start in the mailroom, etc.

I hated that guy.

Anyway, this Bloomberg piece on power players eschewing the use of cell phones strikes me as of a piece with my executive’s perspective. Technology is for the people who work for you. The article literally discusses someone getting Third-World peasants to loan her a cell in a pinch. You don’t get much more entitled than that.

Still, there is something to be said for the virtues of unhooking from technology. I sometimes wonder if the convenience of having a cell is worthwhile, given that one of its most common uses is to find out where my wife got to in Kohl’s.

But it seems to me that focusing on the micro-trend of rich people opting out of the plugged-in lifestyle doesn’t really get at the heart of the issue. I think the Amish, of all people, have it right. It’s not so much about what you as an individual are doing or not doing, as the effect technology has on the community:

Why not make life easier and just put [a phone] in the house?

“What would that lead to?” another Amish man asked me. “We don’t want to be the kind of people who will interrupt a conversation at home to answer a telephone. It’s not just how you use the technology that concerns us. We’re also concerned about what kind of person you become when you use it.”

Just so. Sigh.