Sending a Text on Mother’s Day Sent Wrong Message

Mother’s Day went awry when Mom got a text…not a phone call

Dear Ms. Smartphone: On Mother’s Day I texted my mother to wish her a happy Mother’ Day. This seemed like good digital etiquette as I live out of town and could not visit. Now my mother is angry and says I should have called. Did I do something wrong? T.J. Tiburon

Dear T.J.: There are too many factors here to pull apart. Do you typically text your Mother, or do you call her? Is there a tradition of sending cards or flowers? And, when did you text: late in the day, or before she got up? There are many different options for communications today, and you should choose the one your Mom would like- not the one you prefer.

Here is a useful academic take- the mode we use (say text vs. voice call) also changes the messages in a subtle way. Have you considered making peace now by sending Mom a singing telegram?!

Put Your Damn SmartPhone Away…You’re Running the Boston Marathon!

Boston Marathon runner wonders whether to bring her smartphone along.

Finish with the Phone? Photo: Wired Magazine

Dear Ms. Smartphone: I have been training for the Boston Marathon for a long time and finally made the cut. Am I wrong to want to bring my phone when I run? This marathon is an important memory for me and I would love to get shots along the way. I am not planning on breaking any speed records and I have a zipped pouch to keep the phone safe. My friends say I should reconsider this. Brooke, Boston

Dear Brooke: No! You trained so hard for the race, don’t be distracted. Focus on running, not on selfies. There’s plenty of time before the race, and after to get your best pic. Do not overlook the fact that you might distract other runners if you take out your phone during the course.

Plan to have your friends cheer you on, say midway, or meet them at the finish line. This way they can snap the photo finish and you can set your marathon personal record. Good luck to everyone.

Remember to leave home without it if, you are a runner. Leave home with it if you are following someone or cheering them on.

Phone and Note Taking

Dear Ms. Smartphone: I teach a class at university extension and have an issue. My students are taking notes during class on their phones or tablets. Honestly, I don’t know whether they are actually taking class notes or browsing the Internet or email. Dale, Boston

Dear Dale: What you pose could be a problem, or not. Smartphones don’t seem compatible for note-taking, but tablets do work. Why not call on your note taking students during class to find out if they are tuned-in and paying attention?
Two professors from UCLA and Princeton did research on the best method for note-taking. That was in 2016 and things change rapidly in the tech world. It doesn’t sound like you want these devices in your classroom. As an instructor you must show students how to learn to learn. There is a new book by Cal Newport called Digital Minimalism. You might recommend it to these particular students. Better yet, if the content fits your curriculum, make this a full classroom discussion.