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

Popular Right Now

What I Learned Going Technology-Free For 24 Hours

Hardest challenge turned easiest day

Over Spring Break, one of my teachers challenged our class to go without technology for a whole day for extra credit. At first, I thought that I would just write the reflection to get the extra credit without actually trying to go without my phone because there was no way I could go a whole day without electronics. But, once I thought about it more I figured that I might as well try.

Thankfully, I was on vacation with my mom so it would be easier to not use my phone. To my surprise, I actually lasted the whole 24 hours and enjoyed it somewhat. The beginning of the day was the hardest because I usually go on my phone immediately when I wake up. The temptation to check my snapchat and Instagram was great at the beginning, but soon it subsided.

I found that as the day went on, I slowly stopped caring about what snapchats I wasn't responding to or what Instagram posts I was missing and started becoming more aware of what was going on around me.

I found that the conversations with my mom became more meaningful when both of us were not distracted by our cell phones. In some ways, I felt lighter without the weight of constant notifcations going off on my phone.

That day, I was more present and aware of my surroudings. I was also forced to sit alone with thoughts that I would usually distract myself from. This allowed me to refocus my energy and become more aware of my feelings that I usually push away by a scrolling through Pinterest or Twitter.

I now find myself logging out of snapchat and Instagram for a couple of hours just to refocus myself. I had been so involved in my phone that I didn't realize all the things I was missing.

I would highly recommend trying to go at least cell phone free. It truly changed my perspective on how much I should be using my phone.

Cover Image Credit:

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Are You Really Addicted to Your Phone?

We know about the risks, but we just don't care.

What if I told you that cell phone addiction is no longer just a “teen” thing? And what if I told you it wasn’t even a twenty-something thing?

As cell phones become more ingrained in our culture, studies are finding that 98% of adults 30-49 own some sort of cell phone, and 94% of adults ages 50-64 own a cell phone. These staggering statistics reveal that cell phones are no longer just a teenage fad, they’re an integral part of our society.

With numbers like these, it is important that we evaluate what cell phones mean to us, and what is a healthy balance of use.

Many people are quick to jump in and say that almost every cell phone user is addicted to their devices, which is a heavy claim seeing as though cell phone addiction has been known to be linked to anything from mental health issues, to walking hazards, to even serious cancer risks.

But if you’re anything like me, you’ve already heard all of that. Anyone my age or younger has been told a thousand times about the risks of cell phones, and it’s obvious we don’t really care.

Cell phones have already become a part of our everyday lives, part of our learning, working, part of how we interact with our friends and the world. To lose that connecting piece is crippling in many professional and social instances.

Cell phone addiction, reliance, or dependence can be serious problems. These diagnoses shouldn’t be thrown about lightly, and they shouldn’t be accused on everyone who fits the typical profile. Not every young adult is addicted to their phone, even though we use them frequently.

Perhaps there is a difference between addiction and functional use.

Are you addicted to your car because it gets you places? Should the risk of car crashes force you to bike to work, or should you try a horse and carriage instead? Are you addicted to your frying pan because it’s more efficient than open flame? If you’re a ‘bookworm,’ does that make you addicted to books? Where do we draw the line between real addiction and convenience?

Many psychologists define the addiction line with a few simple questions, which mainly fall under: Can you be off your phone for a few hours at a time without feeling anxious? If you can’t, maybe you should work towards limiting your cell phone use, or following guides to a more healthy relationship with your phone.

Whatever the case, it’s important that we think about our relationships with the technology around us and how they affect the quality of our lives. We shouldn’t be quick to reject or make fun of people for their technological reliance either, especially now that the majority of us own cell phones. We have to accept that many people use their phones as useful tools in their lives, while others are dealing with serious addiction.

We’re all in the same boat, or, I suppose, we’re all on the same screens. Let’s work together to figure out what that means.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

Related Content

Facebook Comments