Doesn’t it feel terrible when you are telling someone something important in your life and they are perusing their phone instead of actually listening to you? Hearing “mhmm” or “yeah” to everything you say is disheartening. People crave being listened to and this feeling of importance being listened to gives us is lost every day when people pay attention to their phones instead of the people they care about. You just feel simply ignored when you express yourself and someone is paying more attention to their phone than you. Put simply, it sucks. Try to put the phone down and give people what they desire, you might learn something important you didn’t know.
Besides, has any great moment or experience in your own life ever happened while you were scrolling through your Facebook? Quite shockingly, the answer is a resounding “no” for most of us. The great moments in our lives have happened when we are experiencing the beauty of the moment we are a part of. The moments of playing the sports we love, playing in the park, or bonding with a significant other. I know some of the best times in my life was when I was abroad with a phone that would just tell the time and take pictures. The conversations and time spent together with my friends involved no phones out there. These conversations and experiences were some of the best of my life and I owe a lot of that to Verizon and AT&T for not working in Europe. Our eyes and ears were open to each other. We learned about each other, laughed with each other, and bonded exponentially faster than we do in the states because we didn’t have a cellphone to fill our time with, just potential friends. Having our eyes up caused us to see some of the coolest buildings, monuments, and landscapes of Europe. Greatness is experienced with your eyes and ears open to what is going on around you.
Our cellphones are causing us to plug our ears with headphones and to fill our eyesight with a shiny little screen. There is no doubt in my mind that the cellphone has become the biggest social crutch of our age. It inhibits real conversation and connection. So many great conversations and bonds are never formed because people are buried in their phone. So many feelings are not expressed and things that need to be said remain unspoken. Millions of potential friendships and relationships have not happened because people have decided to check their social media instead of talking to the person next to them. The cellphone provides a major copout for not engaging in conversation with others around you. This excuse to use our phones is costing us all. Social skills such as being able to read other’s expressions, to listen well, and to speak effectively are not practiced. The cellphone has cost us dearly in the form of relationships never formed and in our lack of growth in our social skills.
Our crazy cell phone usage is a reality. 50% of teens feel addicted to their phones according to a Common Sense Media report in 2016. (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/technology-addiction-concern-controversy-and-finding-balance-infographic#) That is absurd! Every other teen can hardly go fifteen minutes without checking their phones. Parents aren’t off the hook either, 27% of them feel addicted to their phones as well. We are having cigarette breaks every thirty minutes and we are oblivious to it. So much is missed when you are glued to your phone. As Steven Spielberg said,
“Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.”
Put down the phone and you might experience the tranquility nature, people, and our thoughts give us.
Try removing your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, news outlet, or whatever app that distracts you the most from your phone the next three days. You might feel less anxiety.
Play stack phone with your friends next time you are out for a meal. Stack your phones on top of each other in the middle of the table and the first person (if any) that grabs their phone from the pile has to pick up the check for everyone. This is a great way to get yourself to put your phone down and focus on others.