You cannot make much sense of this post if you do not know what an opium den was. Put in today’s terms, it was a recreational establishment where people smoked opium, the most addictive of drugs at that time that few professionals warned of its dangers. The opium dens devastated China’s population.
Recently I myself have noticed dens all around me. Mobile phone dens; not opium dens. It does not matter where I am: on trains; in meetings; in the restaurant; in the movie theatre; in concerts; in lectures. Everywhere. There is a sickening stench of addiction.
Amir was reviewing the soaring prices that vendors were now quoting,some justified but many unjustified. The cost of doing business was threatening their profitability existentially. As Amir spoke, Bob was texting his wife. Sima was texting her new girlfriend. Fatima was watching a new you-tuber from Lebanon; Shuki was reading the news. Freddy had turned his phone face down but kept checking it. Yisrael had to leave the room because his son called him from the pool that he had a stomach ache. Tina left the room because her daughter had nausea. Ilan learnt that his new car would be available in two weeks.
The level of discussion after Amir spoke was as shallow as piss on a plater. I was asked by Amir what I had noticed during the meeting, and I said that “people were fucking around on their phones and not listening”.
Amir told me “not to be too old-fashioned”. Sima told me not to be vulgar, and mentioned that I always spoke in the masculine form, which is “correct Hebrew but not politically correct Hebrew”. Fatima was still watching the You Tuber.
The week after I addressed this team about opium dens-with slides and with pictures.They listened and decided to leave their phones outside the room.
And no, it is not the way to do business. It is not that I am old fashioned. It is a severe addiction, with lots of money driving the loss of cognitive and emotional abilties downhill into a pit of disrepair.