One of the powerful metaphors of the late Steven Covey’s classic, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, is the Emotional Bank Account (EBA). The EBA defines the degree of trust and the depth of the relationship between two people. In good relationships between friends, the positive interactions act as deposits, building a high balance in the EBA. The lack of interactions or negative interactions acting as withdrawals lowering your balance. The degree of trust, acceptance and forgiveness correlates with the balance in the EBA.
The “Digital Shuls” post from last week illustrates two examples of this principle. A few of my closer friends from Shul check their messages in Shul and the post, which they read, questioned whether that was proper behavior. Since I have a high EBA with them they heard what I was saying and did not begrudge me for saying it. One friend pointed out that smart phones, with their organization and communication functions, have become so integral to our day to day living, that it seems perfectly normal to check it in Shul, just as it would be acceptable to update a paper-based to-do list.
The “Digital Shuls” post was not actually prompted by the Shul phone usage of my friends. I pretty much accept their usage, because they’re close friends. What prompted the post, was the iPad usage at my weekday Shacharis minyan by someone I don’t know well. I found it distracting, but if we had a closer relationship and a higher EBA, I probably would’ve ignored it altogether.
In Shuls we let a lot of behaviors slide, because of high EBAs and that’s a good thing. The downside is that when behavior adjustment is called for, we don’t get a call out from our friends, and our friends are the ones most likely to help us change for the better.
Postscript: A Tzedakah collector was making the rounds during Tachanun in my weekday minyan. When he was at the iPad user’s table, I noticed that there was a $5 bill on the floor right next to the chair of the iPad user. I went over and picked it up and gave it to him and motioned that it fell out of his pocket.
After davening, I said it was a good Bava Metzia question as I never actually saw it fall and in theory, it could have been the Tzedakah collectors. He said that he checked his pocket and he was indeed missing a $5. We exchanged name introductions, and deposits were made into both our EBAs. I’m beginning to think that the iPad isn’t so distracting after all.