Lately we’ve noticed something strange. At least it seems strange to us. A lot of folks seem to be staring down at their phones. Like all the time. It’s increasingly common to see people watching YouTube videos on the subway rather than reading a book or newspaper. People walk into oncoming traffic because they’re busy checking their email. Selfies and tweets get round-the-clock coverage on cable news networks.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with these occurrences. Social media is an important source of communication for millions of people. But the fact that the average American spends 40 minutes per day on Facebook is rather alarming, especially since there’s hundreds of social media apps out there. Are we the only ones that think this is weird? Have we gone full-throttle minimalist?!
Phones are Our “Plus One”
I mean, it’s not weird in our everyday lives. We use our phones everywhere, in any situation. They tell us useful information like the nearest Thai restaurant or what year Bill Nye was born. These days we are hard pressed to find a situation where checking our phones is considered taboo. Our phones are like a plus one for every activity. At dinner, on vacation, during appointments, on the couch. Wherever we are, our phones are by our side. Even when meeting IRL, we find ourselves browsing social media every fifteen minutes just in case the latest headline or status update pops up.
Society has ingrained in us the need to stay connected, to live in eternal FOMO, and to document our every interaction. We can’t memorialize an event without taking hundreds of photos and sharing them online. We post to Twitter or Instagram immediately when we’re out and about, when we could wait until we get home. Messaging apps and chat programs constantly divert our attention with obnoxious notifications. The cacophony of pinging sounds is deafening!
The Social Media Disconnect
The mindless scrolling through our timelines and feeds is meant to connect us to our friends and family, but should that be our only form of communication? Doesn’t face-to-face interaction feel more gratifying than passing comments and likes? Even Skype or FaceTime feels more genuine than a simple email. That direct connection is irreplaceable. If we are spending time with loved ones, should we stay glued to our phones instead of giving them our undivided attention?
This is something that never used to bother us. We are certainly not social media haters – we use them as much as the next millennial. But somehow a switch flipped in our minds, and now we notice everyone’s nose buried in their phone. We are irritated by Facebooking at the dining table or Snapchatting on planes. Our preferred entertainment is a lively conversation rather than debating the latest online gossip. Maybe we’re turning into crotchety fuddy duds, but we are tired of using social media as a crutch for social interaction. We saw how much it interfered with our own lives, and we didn’t like it. Our loved ones deserve better than half our attention.
Look, we aren’t asking you to turn off your phone every time you come to our home. We don’t want to limit anyone’s enjoyment of their social media, and we won’t scold you for using it around us. But if we meet in-person, in any situation, we will keep our phones tucked away. We will give you our undivided attention. All we ask is for you to consider doing the same.