For Heaven's Sake, People, Put Down Your Phone

For Heaven's Sake, People, Put Down Your Phone

Is scrolling through your Twitter feed really more important than the person sitting across the table from you?

A couple weeks ago, I was sitting in traffic on my way home from work (yay for living in Atlanta). I was just minding my own business, enjoying my jam session to Taylor Swift, when I looked to my right and noticed something.

There was a couple, seemingly married, sitting at a table outside a local restaurant. The weather was great, perfect for an evening out. Their dog was chilling out underneath the table as they casually sipped on some sweet tea. It looked like the picture-perfect date night.

Except for one thing.

They were both on their phones.

I sat at the red light next to the restaurant for two or three rotations. Not once during those few minutes did this couple even look up at each other, much less actually put their phones down. In fact, I don’t recall seeing them even talk to each other. They just sat there in silence, seeming perfectly content with staring at a screen instead of engaging with each other.

I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t seem right to me.

When did it become acceptable to pay more attention to your phone than to your dinner date?

I remembered the time I went out with a new guy during freshman year of college. It was our first date, so you’d think it'd be common courtesy to be pretty attentive, but no, not this guy. He walked in the door talking on his phone. He scrolled through social media while we waited in line to order, barely taking the time to look up. He was texting other people throughout the entire meal, and in between texts, he was browsing through Twitter. I cut the dinner short and made up an excuse to leave because I was so annoyed.

Unfortunately, I’m sure that guy isn’t the only one who’s ever done that. I know I’m guilty of the same thing. Maybe not on a date, but I know I’ve done that in plenty of other scenarios.

I recently went out to dinner with my family. At one point during the meal, my mom pointed out that she, my dad, my brother, my sister, my sister's boyfriend and I were all looking at our phones and no one was talking. We all looked up and kind of laughed, but the more I thought about it, the sadder I became that this situation has become a societal norm.

Our phones have become our crutch. Whenever there’s silence, we pick up the phone and start scrolling, searching for anything that will rescue us from even the slightest ounce of discomfort.

But in our efforts to avoid that awkward silence, we are putting up a wall. We are letting a three-by-six inch aluminum block keep us from meaningful conversation, from laughter, vulnerability and from quality time with the people we really care about. So you may think you’re just checking your social media, but in reality, you’re doing a lot more than that. And is that really what you want?

According to Pacific Standard Magazine, " Newly published research suggests that the mere presence of a cell phone or smartphone can lessen the quality of an in-person conversation, lowering the amount of empathy that is exchanged between friends.”

The article goes on to say that if your phone is visible at all, your attention is divided, regardless of whether or not you’re even looking at the phone.

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things in the world is getting to sit down and talk with my friends and family. I love hearing about their lives: their goals and their dreams. I love to laugh with them and ask them questions. I try to do whatever I can to make the most of the time I have with each person, because I want them to know they matter to me. The last thing I want to do is make them think I’m distracted or that whatever is happening on Twitter or Snapchat is more important to me than they are. But whenever I pickup my phone to check it in the middle of lunch, that's exactly what I’m communicating, whether it’s true or not.

All of that is to say, what would it look like if we put our phones away? Even just for an hour while you’re having coffee with a friend or dinner with your parents. How could our relationships grow and benefit if we removed this common distraction and were fully present in our conversations? What would happen if we focused on speaking instead of scrolling?

So, next time you’re out with your friend, your family, your coworker or whoever else, please, for heaven’s sake, put away your phone. Be present. Be attentive. Be free of distractions. Sure, some of your friends’ Insta-stories might expire while your phone is in your pocket, but the investment you’re making in your relationships will last a lifetime.

Cover Image Credit: Kaleigh Newby

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25 Responses To Your Friend Who Doesn't Text Back

Omg thanks for responding so quickly...oh, wait.

We all have that friend. That friend we love to death, but if we are sure of anything in this world, it’s that they will not respond to your text because they suck at texting. That moment when you see “Read 1:04 p.m.” and you’re like “and???? Helloooooooo!”

These are 25 responses for that dear friend.

1. Lol thanks for tagging me in that FB post, now text me tf back.

2. OMG, wait you met Chris Hemsworth and he’s professing his love to you??!! No? Okay, then you can def text me back.

3. Hey I’m coming to help you since you obviously broke your thumbs and can’t respond.

4. Lolol thanks for responding. I’ll just continue the conversation with myself. That’s cool.

5. Good chat.

6. Yeah I wouldn’t know how to respond either, pizza topping selection is a thought-provoking process. Take your time. Meditate on it.

7. The classic: ^^^^^^^^^

8. I hope you’re writing me the 8th Harry Potter novel.

9. That was a yes or no question. This isn’t difficult. You wouldn’t do well with ‘Sophie’s Choice.’

10. Omg, did you pass out from the excitement of getting a text from me? Totally understandable. Text me when you regain consciousness, love.

11. Omg what a witty and clever response. Nothing. So philosophical.

12. The only excuse I’ll accept is if you’re eating guac and don’t want to get it on your phone. Because avocados are life.

13. I love it when you do that adorable thing when you don’t text me back for hours. So cute.

14. Okay I’ll answer for you. Yes, you’re going out tonight. Glad we had this convo.

15. In the time it has taken you to respond, dinosaurs could have retaken the earth.


17. The dramatic but also very valid response: That’s what happens when you don’t respond for 30 minutes. People die.

18. I apologize for asking if you were coming to watch Bachelor, clearly the decision has caused you serious reflection on your priorities. I’m sorry to have caused you this existential crisis.

19. Sorry I annoyed you with my friendship. But like plz respond…

20. Your response time is longer than Ross and Rachel’s entire relationship. 10 seasons. You couldn’t text me back for 10 seasons?!!

21. Wait. You’re responding too fast. I can’t keep up. Hang on. Don’t respond so quickly. Jeez.

22. A subtle but perfectly placed gif. What will you go with? The classic eye roll perhaps or maybe a “you suck.”

23. Did you fall off a cliff? Wait, you don’t exercise. Pause your Netflix and respond b*tch.

24. Omg I WON THE LOTTERY. *responds* Lol now you respond…

25. And my personal favorite and go to, Did you text me and then decide to THROW YOUR PHONE ACROSS THE OCEAN?! Lol swim fast, I need an answer.

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It's High Time To Set The Phone Down

Use this summer to escape technology, and you won't regret it!


I bet you don't want to have this talk: the one where I tell you how good it'd be to take a tech break, to escape the internet.

And you'll ask me why I say escape, why I think technology is bad and should be fled.

Yeah, I said you should run from it, escape. Don't run from it like you're scared, but run away for freedom and joy of it.

But it is called escaping when you are a slave. . .

I didn't realize that I was a slave to my phone until I put it down for a month.

Actually, I was forced to relinquish it at camp, to put my phone in a plastic box in a closet that is, but that's beside the point.

I learned a few things when I lost my right-hand companion, and I learned how much I'd been missing out.

Phones give you this serious disease that is clinically termed "FOMO," or "fear of missing out." When you get free of the phone, you usually get free of the FOMO, and it is the GOAT (not explaining this one). We have a God who tells us to be not afraid, and He is sovereign. We can choose to be at peace right where He has us with the people He has given us, and it is an easier choice without a daily stream of comparisons. When you flee from the phone, beautiful things like contentment and peace can come to dwell. It is a turn from the surreal to the real. When you flee the phone, you stop fleeing life and thought in all its reality.

It is work to put your phone down, to walk outside, to pick up a book or to have a hard conversation. But as we've all experienced, tasted, and seen, the rule in the life is that anything worth having takes work. And communication on a phone pales to the vibrancy of in-depth, face-to-face conversation with another person. Our brains weren't made to relate to people in the form of pixels on a screen! But we are addicted, and it pulls us in, the ol' easy click and scroll, the FOMO.

So, whenever I was robbed of my tech, I was so blessed. The gadget that I thought I needed did not even cross my mind. The addiction that pulled, the ease that beckoned me to spend each spare moment entertaining myself, they vanished.

Because of this newfound freedom, all of the camp staff were able to create deep friendships and to be blessed by serving one another. Minutes we would have spent with a screen were spent sharing testimonies, playing games, and helping others out in their various jobs around camp. We noticed each sunset and took the time to stare at them from our rocking chairs (it was the dream). Technology creates a lot of noise in your head, a sort of constant hum so that your brain is always running, always busy. Without it, we were given time to think and process. I grew more thoughtful and at peace. With that extra time, I found myself scheming about how I could serve those around me.

On top of all this, I think that tech is dangerous in that it makes us self-focused, it makes it so easy to compare, at least that was my experience. A phone is your own, and it is a reflection of you, a mini-you, and you primarily use social media to promote yourself, to create an online version of you. We may scroll through pictures of other people, but we too often are thinking of and comparing ourselves to those other people.

Cover Image Credit:

Erin Powe

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