Reconnecting, When Smartphones Fail

I have never thought of myself as a smartphone addict. Of course, I appreciate being able to check my email in the car, my bank balance on the train, and my favorite blogs waiting in line. But I certainly have no issue throwing my phone on silent to enjoy some disconnected peace and quiet.

Recently, a series of unfortunate events caused me to be unwillingly sans iPhone for nearly two weeks. During that time, I realized how much I relied on my smartphone for basic tasks - alarm clock, address book, traveling tweet deck and Facebook account.  

Although the first few days without my iPhone were excruciatingly frustrating, as the days carried on, I found myself reverting to old behavior. I began to wear a watch, read the newspaper without checking my texts every five minutes and people-watch on the T instead of reading the Boston Globe on my phone. I was slowing down to talk to people because I no longer had the option of jotting off an email on the train.

The recent Microsoft Windows 7 Phone “Really?!”  ad showing extreme examples of smartphone addicts reminded me of my time without my iPhone. Although perhaps not Microsoft's intended point, the company's commercial got me thinking that these days it isn’t totally unrealistic to imagine a woman with her phone as she walks down the aisle or a person showering with one hand outside the curtain to text, as shown in the commercial.

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As a Public Relations professional, I more than appreciate the importance of being connected. With all of the different avenues of communication, news can travel in a matter of seconds and we have to be prepared.

Our job in PR is to talk and connect with people every single day. We answer questions, redress misunderstandings and discuss issues that we believe in. Social networks, email and the like have made this far easier; however, there is no replacement for actually speaking with someone.

Although I love the fact that I can reach a journalist via Twitter or email a colleague from the train, my time without my smartphone reminded me there is no replacement for good, old fashioned person to person verbal contact. So next time you want to reach someone resist the urge to tweet, text or post a status update and pick up the phone or walk over and speak to them person to person.

Contribued by Madeline Koessler. Follower her: mkoessler