How do you talk to your friends? Facebook. Instagram. Snapchat. Twitter. These are the platforms, among many others, that we use to communicate with one another. Our heads are stuck in our phones, constantly scrolling and tapping away at a glass screen. During this social media revolution, we forget how to actually talk to people - to hold a conversation with a friend, family member, or stranger, outside of our phones.

It’s become a trend for social media influencers, creators, and vloggers to reveal their true feelings about social media. These people, who live on the internet, are openly bashing the internet for its distracting and addictive qualities. Social media is often compared to a drug. You get a “high” when you receive a new notification or positive comment on your post. You can’t stay away from it for more than a few hours before you “lose your mind.” I often hear “I need my phone” (emphasis on need) from the youngest pre-teens to the oldest adults. In some way, we’re all addicted to social media and our phones.

Frankly, I don’t think this is very shocking. We spend so much time everyday staring at our phones - posting, sharing, retweeting, liking, and commenting on everything we see. Social media is not a fad and it’s not going away anytime soon. When I met with a friend from high school last weekend, I realized the importance of face-to-face conversations. We sat at a coffee shop for maybe two hours just discussing our lives, from the latest news to our dreams for the future.

As someone who rarely responds to text messages and shies away from posting personal things on social media, I prefer these real conversations to the digital. Face-to-face conversations don’t need to be awkward or “deep.” They can be fun, casual, and relaxing (coffee or food helps, too).

The next time you’re meeting with an old friend, follow these conversation guidelines:

1. Respect and reflect on their opinions.

The main goal of a friendly conversation is to catch up, learn more about their lives, and foster a stronger friendship. When you’re talking, remember to continue the conversation by asking questions and listening even more. Listen to what they have to say and show an interest in what they’re talking about. This seems basic, but we tend to forget what it’s like to speak directly with an individual rather than through a screen. In real life, you have to respond quickly - you can’t wait 20 minutes to respond with your best comment.

2. Be real.

We often show only the best sides of ourselves on social media which makes sense. Why would you want to expose your weaknesses and reveal your failures? In person, you can read the other person’s emotions and body language (they’ll realize yours, too), so don’t be afraid to open up and discuss the hard parts of your life. Whether you dive into your life’s greatest secrets or simply talk about your stress at work, you can connect with a friend by opening up and being honest.

3. Avoid drama.

Gossip, gossip, gossip. It’s practically what fuels pop culture. Outside of the screen, ditch the mean comments, skepticism, drama, and negative thoughts about others. Talk with someone, don’t rant about the worst things in life (even if that’s all you think about). You’ll leave the conversation and day with a clearer, positive mind.

Lesson to be learned: leave your phone at home and encourage meaningful relationships (outside of the internet).