It seems one of the media's favorite things to remind us about is the fact that we are a generation that experiences a huge amount of anxiety as a result of social media. We're addicted to our phones, to the outlets that allow us to connect with friends and family that may live on the other side of the Earth. We can't seem to do anything without posting a Snapchat or Instagram story. The perfect caption has become as all-important as writing the perfect wedding vows or eulogy.
While I can't say I can get entirely behind this image of social media as an entirely negative thing on our generation, I can say that these statements are grounded in logic.
Going out to eat with friends has changed since I was a kid. Instead of sitting around the table and enjoying the food and company, shared meals have often become a quite occasion as everyone scrolls through whatever feed they have reached in their rotation. I hate that this has become the norm with everyone in modern society, not just people my age. Since I was raised in a very southern home, weeknight dinners meant you ate around the kitchen table with your family, even if you were having the Chick-Fil-A that Mom or Dad brought home on their way from work.
In my family, we talk to each other. Phones are not allowed at the table for family meals, regardless of what we are having and who is eating with us. This may sound like a weird tradition to some I know this because a lot of my friends, both from my hometown and from "up north" have wrinkled their noses at the idea of eating dinner with their families every night), but I have grown to appreciate it more than I ever thought I could.
Attempting to go to out to eat or even out to coffee with some of my friends seems to be a moot point. Instead of enjoying the level of joking conversation and "deep" conversation that seemed easy to maintain when I was younger, I find myself watching the person I am with as they scroll through their phone until I give up and assume the same position.
I'm not proud of it, but it makes me feel a little less "weird" about my social habits.
So why the change? What caused the addiction to technology that has poked holes in our ability to interact with one another?
If you ask the various media sources that love to report on this phenomenon (but never attempt suggestions to remedy it), it all comes down to FOMO.
If you don't speak "Internet", allow me to translate: FOMO refers to the Fear Of Missing Out. Experiencing FOMO is common when you are stuck on your phone all the time, watching people in other places do things that you can't simply because, well, you aren't there.
Instead, we keep ourselves attached to the devices so we can at least say we know about all of the cool things that we can do and where we can do them. Isn't that the next best thing?
Not even close.
While you're sitting around looking at your phone at dinner with your family, you're missing the opportunity to learn about all of the interesting things that are going on around town just by talking. Maybe you missed an important family announcement because you were preoccupied with scrolling through your ex-boyfriend's vacation pictures. Maybe you missed your best friend telling you about her promotion because you were focused on the BuzzFeed recipe video that popped up on your Facebook feed.
Seriously, people...why are we so addicted to this? When did we lose interest in human interaction? It's the one thing that has been there since the beginning of time.
I know it will be hard (trust me, I've tried and failed many times myself) but just give it a shot. Make plans to meet with friends or family and agree to leave the phones in the car, on the other end of the room, in another room, whatever it takes to reconnect with the person you are meeting with. I can promise that it will make you rethink the way you speak to the people in your life, the way you view them, and the level of appreciation you have for them.