Einstein May Not Have Said It, But It’s Still True

Albert Einstein QuoteI recently received an email which included this picture of Albert Einstein and the quote.  Included with the email were pictures captioned, “a day at the beach,” “cheering on your team,” having dinner with your friends,” “out on an intimate date,” “having a conversation with your BFF,” and “a visit to the museum,” all of which showed young people texting in the company of others.

When I first read the email, I said to myself, “Wow!  How prophetic.  How did Einstein know this would happen?”  Well, of course, any time I get an email like, I have to “snope” it out and, of course, I found out that no matter how wise the words are, Albert Einstein never said them.  But if he had lived in the 21st Century, I’m sure he would have.

Now, I’m certainly not a luddite.  I love the internet.  Anything I need to know I can find within a few minutes.  For example, I read an interview with Eric Clapton and he was asked, “if you could’ve written any song, what would it have been?”  He answered, “The Folks Who Live on the Hill,” written by Jerome Kerns and Oscar Hammerstein II.  Well, I found the song in about ten seconds; I can’t imagine how long it would’ve taken me to find the song without the internet.

But not all technology is good all of the time.  The obsession with texting is what I’m talking about.  According to a communications-analytics company, Quantified Impressions, people should be making eye contact 60% to 70% of the time to create a sense of emotional connection.  This is no longer happening because of mobile devices.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve sat with friends who hold their phones in their hand while they’re talking with me, waiting patiently or impatiently for something to pop up on their device.  Now, I may not be the most stimulating conversationalist, but neither are they, and I find this type of behavior most rude and annoying.  According to QI, “it’s almost become culturally acceptable to answer the phone at dinner.  A common feint, texting while maintaining eye contact, not only is difficult but also comes off as phony.”

I recently heard a great solution for this problem.  A family was at a restaurant for lunch.  One of the women, a tough schoolteacher-type, gathered everyone’s phones and put them in the middle of the table.  She said, “the first one to reach for their phone, pays the check.”  I know I’d get a lot of free meals.

Psychologists have even pointed to “FOMO” or “fear of missing out” on social opportunities, according to a study published in Computers in Human Behavior.  How ridiculous is that?  What about the social opportunity someone is supposed to be having with the person next to them.  I’ve seen people in the theatre, at the beach, in restaurants, museums, and even at a recent Perseus Meteor Shower, all missing out on what’s actually happening around them, because they’re too busy texting.

The CEO of Decker Communications, a training and consulting firm, says that holding eye contact words best for 7 to 10 seconds in a one-on-one conversation and for 3 to 5 seconds in a group setting.  I remember watching a teenager sitting with her parents on the ferry.  Of course, her smartphone was in her hand.  Her parents would speak to her and I counted the number of seconds she actually kept eye contact with them.  She didn’t last 7 seconds before she was compelled to look down at her phone.  I continued to watch this interaction and found it extremely sad.

There’s actually a new app that sends breakup texts to your girlfriend or boyfriend.  You answer a series of questions about the relationship and it generates a “fitting” breakup text.  Maybe it’s a joke, maybe it’s not.  I’m sure someone will pay $.99 to have a smartphone do something that deserves personal attention.

I’m sure if Albert Einstein were still alive, he’d say, I don’t get it.

Author Bio:

For over twenty years, Leona has tried to heed her husband’s advice, “you don’t have to say everything you think.” She’s failed miserably. Licensed to practice law in California and Washington, she works exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect. She considers herself a news junkie and writes about people and events on her website, “I Don’t Get It,” which she describes as the “musings of an almost 60-year old conservative woman on political, social and cultural life in America.” It’s not her intention to offend anyone who “gets it.” She just doesn’t. Originally from Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, she now lives with her husband, Michael, on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, which she describes as a bastion of liberalism.
Author website: http://www.idontgetit.us
  • Nodino

    The wide world of web claims Einstein did not say the “…generation of idiots” statement, but I swear I saw a Tweet from him expressing the same.

    • PiGiraffe

      I see multiple things wrong with your syllogism.
      1. The wide world of web? Seriously? Are we just paraphrasing names now?
      2. Um, you do know that Albert Einstein isn’t alive anymore, right?

      3. If Albert Einstein did say this quote, or even agree with this sentiment, would he be doing the very thing that makes people fools– that is, Tweeting?

  • chief98110

    I have a 70 year old friend that works with tech geeks. Her job is to
    get the geeks to communicate with one another. Her observation is that
    the techies know digital but can’t put a sentence together. This seems
    to be a growing problem with young people. All you have to do is observe
    any group of young people and see that their smart phone has become an

    • PiGiraffe

      Thank you! I’ve been longing for words to describe the relationship between a teenager and his/her cellphone(s), and I have finally found it. Now all I need to do is get my classmates off of their phones long enough to tell them this. Again, thanks!

    • ken2350

      You are aware that people with tech fields have the highest rate of autism by a large margin, right? This is where their talents naturally land them. This is a more likely explanation for their communication issues.

  • Roger Ward

    Technology takes a while to evolve, so we just need to be patient. One of these days, it will develop to the point that we won’t need to rely on a clumsy, inefficient method of texting brief notes to each another. One day soon, we’ll have telephones that we carry around with us which are capable of carrying real conversations. Boy, won’t that be great? Ohh …. Uhh …. Wait a minute ….

  • Ron F

    I am not sure Einstein
    would say that he doesn’t get it. I do not have a cell phone so I do not text so
    I do not understand texting. On the
    other hand, they could be looking up something on the internet. I think Einstein would accept that
    technology has changed how we interact with people. I read that in 2012 the average American spent 34 hours a week watching
    television. I think television has
    changed how we interact with other people and has led to much more isolated
    lives. Prior to television, people used
    to play games as a means of entertainment.
    I read in a Clarence Darrow biography that prior to television, public
    debates drew huge crowds in Chicago.
    Children’s lives today are much more structured today than when we were
    growing up. They do not have the same
    freedom we had. Supervised play dates
    are not the same thing as children getting together with their friends. I could be wrong but I do not think Einstein
    would not get it. He might just see it
    as a natural progression with technology.
    On the other hand, we do not know how long it will last. People might become bored with it like they
    have with fads in the past.

    • Wheels55

      Can’t say I disagree with you except the idea this may be a fad. People, especially the under 30 crowd, have become very dependent on communicating with others via texting, social media sites, etc. So much so, that if they were to leave this way of communicating they would need a replacement. Hologram phoning perhaps?

      • Ron F

        Wheels, maybe I should have said that I hope it is a fad. On the other hand, we do not know what technological changes there will be in the future that might change how we communicate with each other. In addition, maybe at some point they will get bored with receiving a text about every thought someone might have. Again, since I do not have a cell phone, I do not know what people are texting but given the sheer volume of it, it must contain some pretty insignificant information.