Smartwatches and mobile device etiquette: A love story


May 24, 2016


“If this $@][%^# checks their phone one more time while I’m talking…“

We’ve all thought it. How can we not? A 2015 study by Deloitte concluded the average cell-phone-owning American checks his or her phone 46 times a day. Let me repeat that: Forty. Six. Times. A. Stinking. Day. It’s enough to– *beep* Uhh, excuse me real quick. I’ve been waiting on this email all day…

We live in an era of ubiquitous mobile connectivity, and with it come incessant interruptions. Cellphones’ omnipresence means that even when they’re relegated to the confines of a pocket or a purse, their impact is felt in every downward glance. It’s a pandemic, a global phenomenon, a modern-day harbinger of the Four Horsemen. Being glued to your cellphone is discourteous at best and downright rude at worst.

“But who are you to talk, faceless IT nerd man?!” you might wonder. “You’re more plugged in than anyone I know.” And you’re not wrong to ask! I’m the easy target. I read all the tech blogs, I am a self-professed technophile and I even sport one of the symbols of my people: a smartwatch. Yes, the odd little device that Apple is spending millions to convince you to buy.

1Smartwatches have been out for a while. You’ve seen people a-little-too-coincidentally holding onto the subway straps with their watch hand, and you may have even considered replacing that aging Seiko yourself. But even after the smartwatch has spent a couple of years incubating in the public sphere, a lot of people are still asking “Is it worth it?” In short, yes.

Once limited to the uber geek (and later revitalized by nerd chic), the calculator watch was a loud proclamation that its wearer eschewed fashion constructs in favor of something more practical. Perhaps it helped its owner solve thorny mathematical quandaries, or perhaps it didn’t. Either way, wearing a calculator watch sent a message to the world.

So, are smartwatches today’s calculator watches? Well, this is the one I wear. What do you think?


The sartorial among you may notice the Horween leather strap in cognac, while the design aficionado might appreciate its industrial aesthetic and the watch fanatic may note its lugless design. In my opinion, it’s a handsome timepiece, and it has to be—I’m too vain to wear something I’d consider unfashionable.

Like other smartwatches, my watch, the Moto 360, lets me respond to text messages with my voice, acknowledge and delete emails, and use Google Maps navigation (a feature I love when I’m riding my bike). There is a whole bevy of features that cause technophiles like to me to salivate. But do you know what I like best? Wearing a smartwatch has dramatically cut down the number of times I pull my phone out. I feel confident in saying that daily figure has dropped by over half.

That’s not gadget-inspired hyperbole, either. The notifications roll in as they always have, and working in IT, I probably receive more than most. But whether I’m conferring with a colleague or simply sitting at the dinner table, I can guarantee that a subtle glance at my wrist is much less distracting than pulling my phone out of my pocket.

Here’s the bottom line: My job as systems administrator highlights the need to translate nerd talk into regular talk. Yeah, smartwatches are cool for nerdy reasons, but you know what I find cooler? A smart-looking timepiece that KEEPS MY PHONE IN MY POCKET INSTEAD OF INTERRUPTING YOUR THIRD RETELLING OF WHAT FRANK IN ACCOUNTING SAID IN A MEETING, AGAIN.

Cory_Hartmann_Help_Desk1Cory Hartmann, Systems Administrator

The purpose of this blog is to answer the questions you ask (and show pretty pictures of my watch)! Feel free to email me with questions or comments- or if you want to share your own smartwatch stories. Check out some of my colleagues other technical musings here

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