This rant comes with a side of hypocracy, which I am taking full accountability for.
Don’t get me wrong, I am just as addicted to my cell phone as the next self-aborbed pre-adult. Seven times out of eight, you’ll probably catch me with my nose in my phone and my thumbs dancing over the screen. However, just like line dancing, there is a time and a place for cell phone usage.
The purpose of a mobile device is to serve as a medium for communication between two or more distant people. But due to this strikingly boring process that I won’t go in depth about called “convergence culture,” our phones do much more than send and receive phone calls, as their original functions were meant to be.
This amplifies our time spent on the cell phone itself. Now we can send a tweet, play scrabble and fruit ninja, and browse the “humor” section on Pinterest, all from the same device. What can’t these things do?
All of these additions and improvements and apps are great and wonderful, but as I said earlier, there is a time and a place to immerse yourself in the technological world of the iPhone or Android. And that time and place is alone, or in your bed at 11:30 at night when you can’t sleep, or when you’ve spotted a cat stuck in a tree and need to contact the fire department.
However, that time and place is NOT when you are in attendance at a social event. Social events include, but are not limited to, dinners, parties, get-togethers, dates, the movies, lunch with friends, or even breakfast with friends.
Exhibit A: The other day, I invited friends over to hang out at my place of residence. I kid you not, at least half of our four-man group was on his/her phone at any given time. Personally, when I am in a situation like this, I prefer to interact verbally with the people I am surrounded with. Unfortunately, not everyone shares the same desire.
We put a movie in (Warrior, in case you were wondering. Y’know, the one about the Physics teacher who turns out to be a bad-A cage fighter), but I seemed to be the only one watching. The other three in my company were all deeply engaged in games, texting, snapchats, or whatever else. One of these fellows even had his arm around me, but both hands, and 100% of his attention span, firmly fixed on his cell phone.
If you’re with other people, I don’t think it’s too much to ask to put your phone in your pocket and, oh, I dunno, start a conversation the old-fashioned way. At least for an hour or so.
I have no problem with the occasional check-in on your phone for updates, texts, or whatever. But do you really have to play games and ignore the real-life people around you? Why can’t we all just be fully present where we are every once in a while?
Like I said at the beginning of this post, I am not spotless or guilt-free in regards to cell-phone use in a social setting. But I also don’t let my attention span become completely consumed by a virtual game when I am with other people.
It seems as though everyone these days, myself included, have had their social skills damaged by the use of a device that’s supposed to make us even more social. And that’s pretty sad.
In an awkward situation, rather than strike up a conversation and actually get to know the person we’re with, we yank out the phone and act like we have someone else to be texting, rather than converse with another human. I know you’ve done it, and I most certainly know that I have too.
Here’s to face-to-face interaction!