When I first met my long term boyfriend, I realised that we both never used our phones in each other’s company. Unless we were about to snap a photo of one another, it never crossed each others mind to stay on our phones. That is something I’m very grateful for til today, as it’s one of my pet peeves being in anyone’s company, and left with watching them on their phones. Unfortunately, there are a lot of couples and friends that stay on their technology. I notice it in coffee shops, public transport and outdoors. I remember sitting in Starbucks with my boyfriend, and as we sat there for an hour, the couple beside us spent the period of time taking selfies, texting on their phone and not talking to one another. It sort of translates the message that technology, indeed, can make us more unsocial, rather than social.
Although, this rarely happens to me anymore when I am on a lunch date with a friend, I noticed it a lot more in the last few years. There is a conceived need to send a text immediately or reply an email straight away. I do feel 9/10 times an answer can wait an hour, but I feel there is a built up idea that we need to instantly reply people. Bearing in mind a few of these experiences are with people I wasn’t too close to, and a small few were (and unfortunately caused a fall out). I would often hear the words “I’m really sorry, I just have to reply this text.” or “Sorry, this is rude but I just need to check something”. Sometimes it is an emergency, but most of the time it’s the mind set of needing to be on technology. Other times, I feel that it becomes an addiction for some people.
The beauty of conversations is both people are engaged in each others presence. I remember my boyfriend and I would be asked “Don’t you ever run out of things to say?” and I can understand that. Being with someone for a long time, it can be assumed that one would run out of things to say. However, I find that it’s quite the opposite as we tend to talk more, but we also grow more and more comfortable in the silences together. When I’m with a friend, the conversation flows and has a few natural pauses here and there, but when a phone comes into the picture it feels like a sudden interruption and it feels that the person isn’t respecting you. It gives the impression that they don’t care for your time or they have more important matters to attend to. You may say something, and they may answer with “Sorry, can you please repeat that”.
Many people put a lot of value on technology. I noticed it a few years back when I was still using a flip phone. I remember being asked “Do you still have that because you can’t afford a smart phone?” I only purchased a touch phone and laptop at 18 years old, once my flip phone and laptop had died and become unusable. I was proud of myself for using the money I was saving. But, I found there are many people who update the latest iPhone’s, Apple computers and gadgets in order to keep up with everything. It boggles my mind how fast things go. Baring in mind everyone has the right to purchase what they want, but at the same time I feel it makes us lose the value of having and cherishing what we already have. People are willing to spend their time and money on new technology, which may be the added reason why many people are spending more time with technology.
The gratification is instant, quick and very easily diminished soon after checking notifications. For this reason, it is an important reminder to stay in the moment and enjoy one another’s company. For it may soon (or already) become a blessing to be able to experience those true moments of interaction in an ever changing world. The things that make me sadder than the things I have already mentioned, is when I go to restaurants, sit on the bus or ride the train and see babies and children already using and playing on phones. I remember having a manager, that always left his phone on in meetings. Unfortunately, each time his phone rang, he would lose his train of thought and have to attend to the call. Understandably it could be an emergency, although most of the time it was something that could wait, but no matter what position we are in, it can be quite rude.
The world is changing faster than we can keep up with. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve nearly bumped into someone who was using their phone or listening to music, and their look of slight annoyance. Nor can I count the amount of times I’ve seen someone miss the crossing because they didn’t hear the green lights flash. Even standing at the train waiting, walking on the street or silently waiting for a friend, it’s okay to stand and simply wonder in your own thoughts, stare into nature, people watch or day dream, rather than glue yourself to the screen. Appreciate your own company, rather than always relying on using a phone. After moving overseas, it’s those physical interactions with friends and family that I miss the most. Being able to hug someone, laugh with them and share wonderful conversations and memories. Memories that can’t be captured on a phone.
Have you ever had an experience like this? How did it make you feel?