by Al Sacco

My smartwatch turned me into a rude bastard (don’t let it happen to you)

Sep 03, 2015
Consumer Electronics Smartwatches

Smartwatches are slowly starting to catch on, and they bring with them a new type of digital distraction that could further shrink attention spans and make for ruder masses.

My favorite thing about my smartwatch: I no longer need to take my phone out of my pocket 4,718 times a day to check my notifications — 4,707 of which are completely useless and require no immediate action. Instead, I now quickly check them on my wrist. I can also pick and choose which apps I want to show up in my notifications, so I get only, say, 2,846 of them on my watch.

[Related: Why Apple Watch is a business traveler’s best friend ]

But my smartwatch brought out a nasty behavior in me I didn’t even notice at first. Even now, when I’m perfectly aware of it, I still catch myself in the act. My watch made me a rude(r) bastard. I have a feeling I’m not alone. And I fear the problem will become an epidemic as smartwatches catch on with everyday Joes and Janes.

The smartwatch faux pas that will turn you into a rude bastard 

The faux pas of which I write relates to how, and when, you check notifications on your wrist. For example, if you’re in a meeting and the boss is speaking, you probably wouldn’t glance up at the clock to check the time while he or she stares you down — well, not unless you’re a rude bastard. Doing so would suggest that you’re bored, or what the speaker says isn’t worth your time or attention.

apple watch rude bastard

But guess what? Your smartwatch is a tiny clock, and people who don’t know that it’s not a traditional Timex (or Rolex, if you’re lucky) will simply think you’re checking the time, instead of a notification. Of course, it’s no less rude to check a notification during a meeting, a conversation or a dinner engagement than it is to repeatedly check the time, and as such you probably wouldn’t keep glancing at your phone in these situations — unless, of course … you’re a rude bastard.

The problem with smartwatches is that they buzz or ding, tap or bing, and they train you to quickly glance at your wrist whenever they do. Even if you’re not aware of it. It’s easy to forget the message you send to those around you when you constantly glance at your digital messages. Fact is, the vast majority of “normal people” (read: non-tech geeks) have never used a smartwatch, and they just think you’re a rude bastard. 

Do your part to combat smartwatch abuse, before it’s too late

Just 15 years ago, it was considered odd to constantly glare at a mobile phone while walking, eating, driving, talking, reading or otherwise communicating with another human being. Today, it’s common, and we don’t think twice when some rude bastard marches down a busy city sidewalk — headed straight for us — with his head down, face in phone.

This smartwatch phenomenon could raise the level of acceptable digital distraction to new heights and, frankly, that potential is frightening. So please, do your part. At the very least, familiarize yourself with the Do Not Disturb features on your phone and smartwatch, which you can use to quickly turn off notifications in appropriate situations. 

Learn from my mistakes: Don’t let your smartwatch turn you into a rude bastard.