The other day I was in class. I sat down in my usual chair, after several minutes a guy came in who I find somewhat annoying. I noticed that he wanted to talk, so what did I do? I immediately reached into my pocket, pulled out my phone, stared intently at it and with my head down, avoided his gaze. What was I doing? Signaling that I was closed for business when it came to conversation.
We have signals and cues that tell people our intentions. Inherently I knew simply by pulling my phone out my classmate would get the idea that I was busy, or just couldn’t be bothered. I was shutting the door to any interaction, and it worked! Sometimes we do this on accident with our friends as well.
How many times have you been to dinner with friends and this is the scenario?
One by one as people get comfortable they start pulling out there phones, and bam, nothing is said, no conversation, no communication.
I see the point of getting together with friends to actually communicate, laugh, participate as a group, enjoy an activity or dinner. So many times I have gone out with friends and been frustrated, even infuriated when I get there and all everyone does is stare at their phones all night. Especially when it happens time after time. Your friends want to spend time with you, and your phone habits, are breaking your friendships. Here is how:
1. When you are constantly on your phone you signal to everyone else they are less important. No no one will fault you if you receive a call from a potential employer, some emergency or whatever. But when your friends see you texting someone else, who you could text later, watching videos, scrolling facebook, twitter, etc. you are telling them that activity is more important than they are. You are inadvertently degrading them. Your friends time is important, they could be doing anything else, but they came to be with you, return the favor. When I have been on the receiving end of this I have often wondered “why did you even come out tonight?” Some people I have been around have even read books while they are out with friends?! If you wanted to read a book stay home! No one can fault someone for wanting some alone time but if you are going to be out with people, pay attention to them.
Being on your phone at all times also leaves people out and it divides the group. This takes the group from being a unit to individuals with little connection. Some people do not have the joy of living around their friends so when they get to see them it is a big deal. Imagine how they would feel if you are on your phone even when you barely get to see them. Do you think they feel respected, or appreciated?
2. You miss out on things. For instance have you ever wanted one of your friends to watch one of your favorite movies with you? They haven’t seen it, and you really want them to. So you rent it, you put it on, you really want them to like it. Maybe its an intense movie, one you really have to pay attention to. You realize while you have been riveted to the movie, halfway through you look over and your friend is texting, or worse, watching another video!!! You can’t believe it, you have planned this all week. You keep looking over periodically and notice they only barely look at the movie every once in a while. After its over, they say they didn’t get it. Well how could they, they didn’t watch it. You tread all over your friends time and efforts when you do this.
Ultimately you are putting yourself, your time, and something as trivial as Facebook or whatever as more valuable than your friend when you do this. You are putting a lower value on your friends than your phone. You may actually end up losing friends with this kind of behavior. I for one ended up deciding not to hang out with some people because I knew they would just be on their phone all the time. This can cost you valuable friends and connections. Ultimately when you put your time, your phone, and whatever activities you do on it on a higher rung than your friends you are exhibiting a rude, immature, and rather pathetic trait. But like all bad habits you can train yourself out of it. Perhaps before you get out of the car to walk to the restaurant just leave your phone in the car, that way you wont have access to it. Maybe just power it off. Be considerate. Your communication skills should also increase with actual face to face conversation, and more importantly your relationships will be strengthened rather than weakened.
Jonathan King, Co-founder