Rules of Digital Engagement

I’m considering painting a dark watercolor portraying a faceless world illuminated only by the eerie bluish glow of their digital devices. The addictive seduction of an ever-changing virtual world is robbing us of opportunities for personal engagement.

The Internet has violated the solitude of air flight, isolated log cabins and even our cars. Digital engagement opportunities are boundless.

This virtual intrusion is a pet peeve of mine. While I continue to be a vocal advocate for the utilization of technology, I believe there should be boundaries and rules for digital engagement.

Recently, several friends were sitting around a table enjoying a perfect evening filled with lively conversation, but all the while, the face of one of our companions was continuously buried in their phone. An older and respected person at the table candidly (and a bit sarcastically) asked if the phone was more interesting than those of us around the table.

If you want to insure that we have an unsuccessful lunch or coffee meeting, just keep averting your eyes to your phone. Be assured, you will quickly erode your ability to continue a reciprocal and respectful relationship.

I would like to propose a few simple rules of digital engagement.

1) During a meal of any kind (business or social)—put your digital device away and practice being present. If you must use your phone, ask to be excused, go to the restroom, get your digital business done, put it away again, and return to practicing being present and engaged where you are.

2) If there arises a need to document an exceptional dish or quote digitally, ask the table for permission for a quick digital break. Get it done. Then quickly return to the physical engagement.

3) At a meeting with a physical person(s), put your digital device away. We are all busy and I consider it a personal insult and waste of my time, when the person meeting with me is not physically engaged. It is similar to that age-old problem of wandering eyes. You know, when someone is talking to you in the lobby, but he is constantly looking over your shoulder to see who is going by. Practice physical engagement and common courtesy. Be present.

What rules would you add?

Or is what I’m saying here archaic and out of touch with reality?

By randy

Encouraging people to find out who they are so they can live their lives fully.

14 replies on “Rules of Digital Engagement”

It’s not archaic at all..I completely agree with you..I love my phone and all the social enjoyment it offers, but nothing can replace person engagement with me..Eye contact, facial expression and body language is crucial to understanding what someone is saying..No digital device can replace a real smile, a flirty wink or a good hardy LOL!!


I was delighted to see this post during my Friday afternoon perusal of Facebook! I completely agree. Beautifully written.

Certainly not archaic. Something that I personally struggle with myself, even though I believe it to be inconsiderate in many situations as you have indicated. Some of the best dinners and times are when its left behind.

thanks for the reminder. often times my wife and i will be on our phones talking to one another in the same room. i hate that. those rules are great. one thing i absolutely love about our gatherings at recreate. thanks again.

I’m late to the party on this one!

This is a symptom. Of what, I’m not sure. Before mobile/digital, the flickering blue tint was on our curtains from our television(s). I’m interested in seeing whatever art piece you produce. The blue tint makes an interesting modern motif.

The problem isn’t the medium/technology. The problem seems addictive in nature. Being present with another person requires sacrifice. A giving of oneself to another. Letting go.

And that’s a difficult practice for all of us. Your rules are a fantastic start!

(PS – love this blog, Randy)

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