It happens almost every day. You're walking down a hallway, or a sidewalk, or wherever it is people travel. You see someone about 10 feet ahead of you, someone you see often enough. But you don't know them by name. You make brief eye contact. You go for a smile to just be friendly, but they do what so many people choose to do: they reach into their pocket, pull out their phone, and look with interest as they tap and swipe for a few seconds until they pass you. You turn around to observe what they do after passing you. And every single time, they immediately put their phone away and continue on their commute as if nothing had happened.
If there's someone you don't want to interact with, then maybe you can avoid them with your phone. But are we really so afraid of encountering each other that we need to use our phones as a barrier to cut ourselves off from the world? We give each other the impression that they aren't as important as everything on their little touch screen. Because I've hidden behind my phone before, I know that what one does on their phone in those few seconds is nothing significant either. Maybe you'll check your email, or see a brief text, but whatever you do is a mere excuse to get away from what—or who—is in front of you.
Human interactions are increasingly impersonalized as is. We're sucked into our devices on public transportation. We're sucked into our devices at school. We're sucked into our devices at work. Is this just the unpreventable future of human interactions? Is ignoring anyone who isn't immediately important to us just the norm? I hope we can resist our own temptations enough to tolerate surface-level greetings. If we can't manage to do something so simple, then we'll face even greater problems as technology and its allure keeps on rising.
Please, don't hide behind your phone. It's just phony.