The Time Thief

To start this lesson on social etiquette, I want to give you a timely quote from a book written during the Civil War era.

“Frequent consultation of the watch or time-pieces is impolite, either when at home or abroad.  If at home, it appears as if you were tired of your company and wished them to be gone;  if abroad, as if the hours dragged heavily, and you were calculating how soon you would be released.

Never read in company.”~Louis Martine (Handbook of Etiquette 1866)

If only Martine could see how our society has unraveled!  Watches and time pieces are a thing of the past in most regards.  People now have these phones and pods to not only tell time with, they can do it all.  Hand held devices have brought us to the lowest form of rudeness.  People who own them, will get a beeping noise emitting from their pocket, which signals an incoming text.  Even if they are engaged in a conversation or in the company of others, they will plunge their hand into their pockets to pull out the device and look at it.

It shows a lack of patience and courtesy.

The lack of patience is evident in how they can not wait until the conversation is over to find out what someone texted them.  It shows that they feel what ever that instant message is, it is more important that what you are saying at the time.  They are not being courteous if they interrupt another persons thoughts to take a call or text right in the middle of the conversation.  The person talking will lose their thought and forget the point they were trying to make.

I have seen this all too many times.  In fact, when you see young people using these, you will most always see their faces transfixed upon it’s glowing light for hours.  They may look up for a brief moment to be sure they do not stumble over things that are laying on the floor.  Instead of picking things up, they will look up long enough to make a lunge over it and then resume their attention toward their little “World”.

“I got the Whole World in my Hands”  It has everything I need…

  • Live streaming television, movies, or you tubes
  • Texting and instant message
  • Facebook and Twitter live feeds
  • Phone
  • Video games
  • The internet
  • A Photo Camera
  • A Video camera
  • Software
  • Data base
  • Calculator
  • Time Clock
  • Apps of a zillion sorts

Who could blame a person if they feel this is their world.  It is everything they need in one handy little package. 20 years ago I was dreaming of such a thing.  I thought it would be so neat to be able to watch my favorite shows while I was sitting in my high school math class.  It was a time when the internet was not developed yet.  I remember sitting in a meeting in my high school.  It was a meeting about our futures in the business world.  They said there was a way we could instantly communicate with a person in China from a new thing called the “WEB”.  At the time, I can remember how far fetched it seemed.  How could it be possible?  Now, not only can you communicate with people around the world instantly, the most vile and evil sorts of entertainment are only a click away.  It is sad that such a devise can be such a huge time thief for the people of our time.

People can be on these devises for hours without even knowing it.
My son, Miles, wanted one in the worst way.  He coveted that device for the past 5 years.  We lived on our little homestead, working the land, yet he was somewhat dissatisfied.  He would occasionally see other kids enjoying them and it seemed a grave injustice to him that we shielded him from these devices.  For some reason, I could see it was a world of iniquity waiting to be played with.  Eventually, when he saved up enough money, he bought one.  He told me that he would be extra nice and extra helpful.  The week before he bought it, he woke up around 4 am each morning to clean the entire house.  I was smitten!  It was a lovely manipulation tactic for a mom like me.  I could get used to that new level of work ethic in my son.

He promised that he would continue this lovely habit of cleaning and helping me around the house.  We thought it would be okay.  About two days after he got the device, he stopped helping entirely.  He became ornery to the other kids that wanted to get a glimpse of what ever was so enchanting in his hand.  That device stole his time.  It was gone.  He no longer would have conversations with real people as he started texting and Facebook messaging others.  He got busy downloading movies, apps, and video games.  The indulgence of this device became my worst nightmare.

I would see kids in public places smiling down into their hand instead of smiling toward their friends.  They were no longer talking to each other with their audible voices, it was all by the touch of their fingertips.  They would be texting each other even when they were sitting right next to each other.  That is so messed up! And now it was in my home, all day long.  I hated seeing my son looking into his hand instead of into my face.  I missed our conversations.

We did what most parents do not have the guts to do.  We bought it back from him.  We wanted it to be his choice because the bitterness of having something taken from you that you worked hard to pay for would only grow in his heart.  I tried to find a good alternative.  I went on the internet to look for other cool things he could buy with that $300.   He could buy an air soft gun, or buy survival equipment.  He was easily swayed and I had that devise in my hand.  Soon we sold it and I could not be more happy with that step we took.  We gained our son back.  

The Necessary Evil…
These hand hand held devices are very needful to the working class of people in today’s word.  I can see that they are practical for people.  You can communicate with your business and research on the go.  I can see it is useful for keeping tabs on your kids when they are away.  It could be used for safety as you can notify people of an emergency when it should arise.  There is no end to the convenience and usefulness of these devices.  The only troubling thing is when they become a TIME THIEF.  When kids have them, they do not always have the discretion and moderation that an adult would have.  They can get lost in a video game or movie for hours at a time.  A young person can accidentally or intentionally surf into areas that are very inappropriate.  It can be a device that will steal more than your child’s time, it can steal their soul.  

  • I suggest getting safety apps that will not allow certain things on the device.  
  • Spend time with your child to find out what they are looking at and spending their time doing on that device.  
  • It is important to keep your relationship REAL, and not allow them to slip into a virtual existence where everything they know is some digitized entity.  

Although this device is needful, etiquette can be observed, none the less.  If you are a gal that likes to keep abreast all the Facebook timeline feed, make sure you are not looking at the devise when you are engaged into a conversation with another person.  You could turn the noise off when visiting so you are not distracted by the constant beeping of notifications.  It is very rude.  Rather, you want to esteem others above yourself.  It is both biblical and good benevolent practice…

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”  Philippians 2:3

By placing others above yourself, you listen intently to their words and show care for what interests them.  In so doing, you are treating them the way you would want for them to treat you.  When you are talking to another person, you do not like it if someone is texting or looking at their phone.  It makes you feel as though what ever you are saying is of little importance.  I want to conclude with another quote of Martine’s Handbook of Etiquette…

“To cultivate the art of pleasing is not only worthy of our ambition, but it is the dictate of humanity to render ourselves as agreeable as possible to those around us.  While, therefore, we condemn that false system of philosophy which recommends the practice of flattery and deception for the purpose of winning the regard of those with whom we come in contact, we would rather urge the sincere and open conduct which is founded on moral principle, and which looks to the happiness of others, not through any sordid and selfish aim, but for the reward which virtuous actions bestow.  The sacrifice of personal convenience for the accommodation of others; the repression of our egotism and self-esteem; the occasional endurance of whatever is disagreeable or irksome to us through consideration for the infirmities of others, are not only some of the characteristics of true politeness, but are in the very spirit of benevolence, and, we might add, religion.”  ~Martine 1866

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