I hate it when I’m talking to someone and they just can’t take their eyes away from…ahem…their effing phone? Okay yeah, the other thing happens to me a lot too, but that’s another post entirely.
On New Year’s I was out with friends and at one point I looked around our group, we were in a lounge bar sitting on couches and comfy chairs around a cofffee table, and of the ten people in our group all but four of us were on their phones. Posting on Facebook, Tweeting, checking email, texting. I looked around and thought it was such a sad state of affairs. Here we are lucky enough to be enjoying each others’ company, celebrating the New Year, and we have to a) post updates every five seconds about what we’re doing at that exact moment, b) read other people’s posts about what THEY are doing at that exact moment, c) text people not with us to find out what THEY are doing, and d) check random sh-t on the internet. Really? Have our conversation skills taken such a dive that we can’t, oh I don’t know, talk to each other?
The other day I overheard someone talking about a situation with their roommate. They had been having problems with them and one night the roommate came home in the wee hours of the morning, but had forgotten their key, forcing the person talking to get up from bed and let them in. They exchanged words and then went off to their respective bedrooms. A text war of words ensued and this person was describing what was said back and forth. I said, “wait, you were texting this argument?” “Yes.” “But you were both home, just in your own bedrooms?” “Well, yes.”
How is it possible that people have stopped communicating and are over-communicating all at the same time? There’s so little face to face discussion but people sure as hell have no qualms about blasting people on Twitter or Facebook. And I guess…I mean am I just being an old lady by thinking we might be better off just having actual CONVERSATIONS rather than airing our dirty laundry in public? Seriously…I’m actually asking the question. I see things that people post and wonder why on earth they want the masses to be a part of their fights/confessionals/private lives/etc.
Okay, who am I to talk. I’m telling you stories every day about people in my life and struggles we’ve faced. But for the most part I’ve had long conversations with anyone who will listen prior to putting it in print. When my husband and I were limping through our bad years we did sometimes communicate our more difficult conversations over email. I would labor over them to be sure my tone would be correct (and my grammar and my meaning) and that I was taking the time to really think it through. But then by God we would print those suckers and go through them. Sometimes when my husband was really frustrated he would blast me via text and I would start to respond and just get so irritated because a) I can’t type fast enough on a phone when I’m mad to properly convey what I’m trying to say, b) I felt strongly that serious arguments were not to be had via text, and c) just pick up the f-cking phone and talk to me if you need to get something out right this very second. Jesus.
I understand the addiction to our phones. I do. I have the ability check how many people have visited this site via phone, there is indeed an app for that, and in the beginning I wanted to check it every ten, okay five…okay realistically every 1.5 minutes I was hitting refresh. The communications tools on my iPhone are dreamy. And yes, I admit, sometimes it is easier to reach out to people via text or email or Twitter or whatever else, but for actual real discussions of worth…how is that beneficial?
My little girls both have fake cell phones. They pretend to make calls and text and I sometimes worry that they will grow up lacking communications skills that I hold dear. Speaking well, writing well, use of proper grammar and punctuation, and language can all be thrown out the window if your primary communications tools only allow for 140 characters and encourage the use of shortcuts. I want them to be able to command the attention of crowds when they speak in public, I want their writing to have the power to make their loved ones feel truly adored, and I want their language and choice of words to be envied by those around them.
More than that, I want them to have the courage to have real conversations with people in which all parties actually look each other in the eyes and truly communicate. I want them to understand what is appropriate to put out for public consumption and what should be saved for in-person discussions. I want them to understand that their integrity is at risk if they are recklessly blasting people in public forums.
And thus, it means I have to do a better job about putting down my own phone, and being present. I need to be better about actually calling the people with whom I want to communicate and stop relying so heavily on easy methods to communicate. I have to show the little girls how important real conversation is so they will understand that being with, communicating with, and living amongst people is always preferable to our silly phones (as lovely as they are).
TODAY: What if I do better about communicating with people in-person as opposed to by any other means possible? What if I put the phone down when I’m with people so they know I’m happy to be there and I’m actually present? What if I try to keep inappropriate BS to myself instead of throwing it out for public consumption?