If you ever happen to be spending time with me and find yourself thinking, “Hmmm, I wonder what the quickest way to piss Elizabeth off would be?”, allow me to answer your burning query in advance. Without a doubt, one of the fastest ways to ensure I think of you as disrespectful and discourteous is to be on your phone.
As social media platforms gain steam and become more and more ubiquitous, we believe ourselves to be better connected to the people we care about. However, I’m finding more and more that the pervasiveness of social media does anything but increase our connectivity.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are laboring under the false delusion that we are closer to our friends and our family, when in reality, we are becoming disconnected. I can tell you what my friends and family post on Facebook or text to me every once in awhile, but I find myself having fewer and fewer meaningful exchanges.
Trust me, social media is useful and can be a great tool for keeping in loose touch with a wide range of friends, family, and acquaintances. I love that I can use it to occasionally have a quick chat with former coworkers or friends who live across the country or on a different continent. It can be really useful in getting a group together to go out to drinks, or to invite people to an event. I love being able to blog here on wordpress, read other blogs, and interact with these communities.
AND YET. This false sense of connectivity means I spend less actual time with the people who matter. Phone calls are quickly becoming a thing of the past, unless you’re one of my parents or we’re in an LDR. And even if we spend actual time together, there’s a good chance you might pull out your phone and absentmindedly play Angry Birds, send a snapchat, or continuously text someone else. UM. HELLO? WHEN YOU ARE SPENDING TIME IN PERSON WITH ANOTHER BEING, THAT BEING SHOULD BE THE FOCUS OF YOUR ATTENTION. Out at dinner with your significant other? Put your phone away. Watching a movie with your family? Put your phone away. Grabbing coffee, going ice skating, hanging out at your favorite watering hole, working out together at the gym, sitting around watching tv, I don’t care what you’re doing- if you are doing something with another person for the purpose of spending meaningful time with that person, then PUT. YOUR. DAMN. PHONE. AWAY.
This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Maybe it’s because I’m one of three people in modern American society without a smartphone, but I really, really hate when I’m trying to enjoy myself hanging out with a friend and they won’t get off Snapchat/Facebook/reddit/gmail and won’t stop texting/dicking around with an app/Instagraming their overpriced Starbucks latte. If I’m making the effort to see you, then I want to see you, not your social media. For example, I was recently spending time with someone I had not seen in several weeks. We went out to a local bar to hear a couple bands play, and this person was continuously on their phone. We were watching a movie later, and this person spent half the movie on their phone. We were in the middle of a damn conversation, and they were on their effing phone. Do you see the point I’m trying to make? We had made plans in order to spend time enjoying each other’s company, and the whole time I felt like I was competing with a 3.5-inch hunk of plastic, metal, and microchips. It drove me crazy. It made me feel disrespected and unimportant, and I also had to wonder if my companion was bored, angry, or annoyed with me to keep “checking out” of reality and “checking in” to social media.
When you’re spending time with someone, and you divide your attention between them and your smartphone, you are ignoring a real-life person under the guise of maintaining connections with other people. If you want to maintain a connection, start with the person in front of your face. Put your phone away. That text can wait until you aren’t in a situation where you should be focusing on the person next to you.