Publisher’s Toast: What Started as a Trickle is Now an Avalanche


I have written hundreds of columns from the bully pulpit of my role as publisher. For 26 years I’ve given my thoughts and opinions on almost anything, usually beverage related, but including personal aspects of life, civility, relationships and society. Of all my columns over the years, none elicited as much response as one from about 6 years ago. Obviously, I don’t expect you to remember it, but “Put Down the Blackberries” had the biggest reaction.

I am from the old school, fearful of the new technologies, admittedly so. While they have revolutionized technology, business and efficiency, the lost of personal touch and communication has been the byproduct. What I feared back then has come to fruition, on steroids. I’ve railed about the lack of respect and consideration when one pulls out their phones at meetings, lunches, and simple walks through a trade show floor or convention. There is never a moment when one doesn’t have one’ devices. For the life of me, I can’t see what is so damn important that people are transfixed to them, searching for the next email or text that will revolutionize their existence, or the next Facebook post from one of your hundreds of “friends” while you are supposed to be engaging me and others in conversation. It amazes me that you can’t show courtesy and respect to the person you are actually talking to, instead glaring at your smartphone.

It’s funny that what separates humans from other creatures is our having two hands to utilize, but now one appendage is rendered useless because it’s always clasping the phone. This technology was supposed to make life better, allowing more time and energy for your personal and professional sides. Instead it has diminished your ability to relate, devote time to your kids and pursue leisure activities.

I play tennis in Central Park every weekend. As I wait for my court time, I’m struck by how many people are on their phones. In between changeovers, everyone picks up their phones instead of talking about the last game. You can’t walk the streets without bumping into people so engrossed, and oblivious, to their surroundings. On my subway ride each morning, at least 80 percent of the riders are glued to their phones. What ever happened to eye contact and people watching, or good old fashioned spying?

The business climate of today is one of communicating through our devices. You can’t read nuance from a text or email, yet most people don’t answer their phone. It’s now standard operating procedure.

It’s so intuitive yet, most of you are phone addicts, unaware of how it has impacted your world. In the old days the expression was stop and smell the roses. If only it were that simple today.