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Wired and Well-Mannered, a Recap of our Weeklong Experiment

Is social media the new cigarette? That was the enticing email subject line of a Retrevo.com study I got yesterday, just as Bridget and I were preparing to write a recap of our week-long experiment in how to be wired and well-mannered.

101309_gadgetologySocialMedia2 According to that study, we're definitely addicted: among the under-35 crowd they surveyed, 64 percent said they Tweeted, texted or checked Facebook while at work. Almost the same amount (65 percent) said they did so while on vacation, and a whopping 36 percent admitted to using social media after sex. Whoa.

Check out all the results here.

This segways nicely into what Bridget and I realized after our week-long experiment of trying to ban our bad cellphone behavior - we are pretty obsessed.

Bridget vowed to stop taking her phone out at the dinner table. I  was trying to stop using her phone while driving. The basic operating principle was that the priority was real-life people in front of you -- and if there were any around it, the phone wasn't to come out.

What we learned -- as well as the several readers who joined us in the experiment -- was we're so attached to our phones, so much so that we often sacrifice in-person conversations.

I had to resort to hiding my phone in her purse or glove compartment while driving to curb the temptation to check it -- even while the car was stopped. Bridget found herself driven crazy with the impulse to check her phone every time a text alert chimed.


What we realized was that the vast majority of these messages aren't that important. In our minds, and those of many others, we've created an inflated sense of priority with this age of instant communication.

Susie Gilden is an account manager at rbb Public Relations in Miami, and self-admittedly obsessed with Twitter, Facebook and her Blackberry. She's never taken out her Blackberry when seeing clients, so she focused on not using it in the car and during other meetings. When she mentioned the experiment during one meeting, everybody put their phones away. ``We all got a lot more done,'' Gilden told me yesterday,  when we chatted by phone to discuss how the week went.

She's still grappling with her Blackberry in the evenings, away from work. She knows her husband, Spencer, can't stand it when she's checking messages while they're watching television.


"I get a lot of rolled eyes and dirty looks," she said.

What did we learn? We had a lot more great conversations during the day. We became much more aware of the false dependence we've created with our phones. And, hopefully, we're working toward being wired and well-mannered. Did you learn anything? Let us know.

In the meantime, for your listening pleasure, Bridget and I also did a recap for our news partner, WLRN-Miami Herald News. Here it is:

Wired Manners - WLRN Recap


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