|Not so long ago, women would go to their neighbor’s houses to socialize. They might chat for hours, sitting around the kitchen table. There was an art to conversation, a give and take. People actually listened and learned from one another.
Today, things are much different. In our fast paced world that already doesn’t allow for “hours around the kitchen table”, too often we squander what little time we have left for our friends by texting other people when we’re supposed to be talking to the people we’re with!
We’ll text others who aren’t there and post selfies on Facebook/Instagram, etc., but are we able to fully enjoy ourselves in the moment if we’re doing that? Sure, humans are social animals and everyone wants to enjoy life to the fullest. But what does this behavior signify? Are we just trying to have fun with the most people all the time, even if we’re spreading ourselves too thin? Or are the reasons more difficult to face? Like maybe we’ve become uncomfortable with real people and our phones have become a crutch? Maybe we don’t have much to say, and we’re trying to hide our insecurity by showily engaging in private conversations with other people through our phone. Maybe we are trying to show off how popular we are. I ask you, do we really need to be distracted by every funny conversation that is texted to us, when we’re sitting with someone who took the time to actually show up to spend time with us?
This savvy chick says obsessively texting while with friends harms those friendships; and when done flagrantly, ostentatiously, or rudely, it displays shockingly bad manners as well.
This is not acceptable behavior! You’re better than that. Don’t you realize that always being available to text actually means that you’re not really doing anything else that’s interesting? Or, even worse, it might mean that you’re so easily distracted by novelties that you’re unable to hold a conversation as a mature adult. Admit it. The message that you’re actually sending to the world when you text while socializing with other people is that you’re immature, and unable to handle your social life like an adult should.
It’s clear that this technology is still new. With the advent of texting and social media, established communication etiquette has broken down. Yet, no one really seems to be speaking out against all this blatant rudeness that contravenes all the well-established social rules. It’s time we recognize that the novelty of smart phones has worn off. We need to reflect on how to comport ourselves when with friends in this age of ubiquitous smart phones, and come down on the side that honors the reality of human contact over the virtual reality of a phone. And we need to stop using the phone as an instrument of power over others. Forcing people to wait while you take pictures and text is impolite and self-important.
Of course, emergency texts are ok. The convenience of real time is nice. Recording a funny moment is too, but you don’t have to text it out right away to get the response you crave. Wait to do it later when you’re alone. Constant texting with friends and taking photos for social media should not be encouraged during social visits. Such behavior does not lead to meaningful interactions with the people you’re with, and may even lead people to resent your behavior.
In reality though, the problem is more complicated. It’s not just one person doing this when friends are together. The fact is everyone is doing it, and it seems to have led to an arms race to see who can do it the most. It seems to be a weird form of a popularity contest. No one wants to be the “uncool” one with no one to text with while they’re talking to someone else; reminiscent of the college days when having a drink or cigarette in hand signified relevance.
It’s become ridiculous. Given this dynamic, I’m not really sure how we’re going to fix this as a society. That’s the problem with arms races. It takes one person to take the first step. Yet, for many of us, it would feel awkward to ask someone to put their phone away when sitting down to talk. However, with someone you know, for whom the problem has persisted, perhaps you can take the first step by announcing “this is going to be a no-phone lunch”. Manners are the unspoken rules of behavior for civilized people.
However, you shouldn’t have to ask people to put down their phones, or even signal for them that they should do so. People should be expected to do that without asking. But try telling that to the worst offenders amongst your friends. Tell them their manners are atrocious. See how that goes over as you study their shocked faces!
We should be building meaningful relationships. By texting during a conversation, you’re missing out! Put down that phone! Not only are you hurting your friendships, you’re hurting yourself! Texting and too much social media creates a lonely place and a false reality! Start living again! Or at a minimum, let’s set an example for the next generation!
So let’s bring real communication back! Our happiness (and friends) will thank us.
Josie Croll, Savvy Chick