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A Phone Revolution?

June 12, 2011
Mary Jane Copps

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I’ve been a bit of a late adapter when it comes to developing an understanding of, and an appreciation for, the food I eat. I’m not a big fan of salt so I’ve managed to avoid a romance with fast food, preferring to prepare my own simple meals. But outside of this,I didn’t give food much thought.

But five or six years ago my husband and I did a three-week detox and that process started me down the road of learning more about food, where it comes from, its benefits, its detriments. I’ve maintained this interest and it has lead me to Jamie Oliver and his newest television program, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

Jamie clearly sees a looming crisis of food-related illnesses, such as diabetes and morbid obesity. His focus is on children. He believes that we, the adults, have placed today’s children at risk because of the food they eat, because they don’t know any better. It isn’t that they are stupid; they have been raised on fast food and they haven’t been provided with any information.

The Food Revolution is about on two things: educating parents so they will educate their children and getting better food into schools. This season Jamie’s battling it out with the Los Angeles School Board and, at this moment, he’s not winning. So he decides to test the food knowledge of high school students; he uses the same test he’s given to primary students. To his amazement the very smart, successful high school teens knew very little about the source of their food. For example, when asked to identify where butter came from and given the choices of a cow, corn or a sunflower, a very high percentage of the students said corn … and there were many other similar results. As Jamie pointed out, these are not stupid children – they simply don’t know, they haven’t been informed or taught.

What, you’re wondering, does this have to do with The Phone Lady? Well I think it knits together with two recent incidents. The first was while I was traveling back from Ontario earlier this month. While sitting in Pearson Airport a young woman, having seen me with my Blackberry, came up to me and asked if she could borrow my adapter. She’d forgotten her’s (don’t you hate when that happens!) and she needed to make a call. Since I’ve been in that circumstance more than once I gladly handed over my adapter. She moved not to far away from me to plug in and made her call.

I’d look in her direction every once and awhile and realized that her definition of the word “call” was completely different than mine. For the 20 minutes or so she had my adapter before my flight was called, the young woman never spoke to anyone; she clicked through her conversation, texting.

But you see, like the high school students hanging out with Jamie Oliver, many (many) young people don’t know how to talk on the phone, they haven’t been informed or taught. They’ve been texting. The rules of “telephone etiquette”, for lack of a better phrase, that those of us over 30 learned as we grew up, from our parents chatting on the home phone, from receptionists in doctors’ offices, etc, young people don’t necessarily ever encounter anymore. It isn’t that they are stupid – they just don’t know!

That’s why The Phone Lady is delivering more workshops these days at colleges and universities, high schools and youth centres. There’s beginning to be a recognition of the importance of these skills for getting a job and for doing a job well. No matter how efficient our other technologies are, people still need to talk to each other, they still need to communicate thoughts and ideas on the telephone.

 

Happy dialing everyone! TPL

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