It all began at a hibachi dinner with my family. An environment that, growing up, was one that promoted mingling amongst strangers at a shared table. The room would be filled with laughter and conversation; it was an environment that I looked forward to with a great deal of excitement the moment my parents would say "We are going to Ron of Japan."

In more recent visits, I noticed a certain level of silence in the room upon entrance. The laughter and conversation that I had correlated with the Hibachi restaurant experience no longer existed. One quick look around the room revealed to me that everyone was glued to their phones, including young children, not even raising their eyes from the device to see the onion train whistling around the cooking table at the chef's command.

It was a sad realization that was heightened after hearing my mother whisper in my ear, "Isn't it sad that everyone here is on their phone?"

Coming from a family that greatly values interpersonal relationships; the interconnections and interdependence between communicators– it comes as a disappointment, and fear of the digression of communication in society, to see the overuse of cell phones around me.

Cell phones have become our prominent means of communication. Due to the overuse and over-reliance on our cellular devices, many people have forgotten how to effectively communicate with other people and may have even developed Communication Apprehension (CA); general fear or anxiety associated with either real or anticipated communication with another person or persons.

It is important to be media literate; the ability to access, analyze, and evaluate media– to ensure that we are more aware of our media consumption. Without an understanding of media literacy, it is so easy to get sucked into the world within our iPhones. With strategic marketing schemes and a heavy emphasis placed on beauty in media, our media consumption cannot only consume our lives entirely but can also lead to a weakened sense of self-love and a genuine appreciation for the world around you.

More often than not, people don't realize that the people in their life are being consumed and subconsciously harmed by their media consumption, due to their specialty in pseudo listening; pretending to listen when one is actually not paying attention at all. Learn to be media literate not only when it comes to your own media consumption, but when it comes to the people you care about and their media consumption as well.

I challenge you to become aware of how often you use your phone and what percent of that usage is either productive or necessary. Learn to put your phone away to not only appreciate the life around you but to also prevent the adoption of CA or a faltered progression of interpersonal relationships in your life.

@imanirayy