Hang up to reconnect with society

We recently ran a story about a coffee shop owner who had decided to not serve anyone who was talking on their phone when they came to the counter. This was a business owner in a Victoria, but the story clearly resonated with the people of the Southern Highlands. About 140 readers commented on our Facebook post. For the most part people applauded the decision with comments largely focused on the behaviour being disrespectful to the person serving and others in the line.

An opinion piece published in the Southern Highland News several weeks ago about pedestrian behaviour also attracted criticism of those who don’t watch where they are going while on the phone. In some parts of Australia people have been fined for using their phone while crossing the road. In South Australia the fines have been supported by a law that states people “must not walk without due care or attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road”.

A recent letter to the editor further addresses problems with mobile phone use. The letter from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT executive general manager client services Frances Tinsley highlights a growing concern for people who are blind and visually impaired when they head out in public. She said findings from a recent Guide Dogs Australia survey revealed almost half of all people who used a white cane were walked into at least once every time they were out, with about 60 per cent of people reporting the instances were caused by people engrossed in their mobile devices. The findings are so concerning the theme for this year’s White Cane Day on October 15 is Eyes Up. It’s intention is to encourage people to be mindful of who’s around them when they are out and about using their mobile devices. 

Clearly mobile phones are a valuable item in this fast-paced modern world, but have common courtesy and consideration been left hanging on the line?

There was a time not so long ago when we could wait until we were home to make those important, and often not so important, calls. We used our time in public to watch where we were going and even interact with others. Surely our lives are not so busy these days that we can’t spare a few minutes off our phones to watch where we are walking? And how hard is it really to put the phone aside to order a coffee or give full attention to the cashier at the register? 

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