Written to the song: I’m the One — DJ Khaled ft. Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne, Chance the Rapper, Quavo.
“Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone” — Steven Spielberg
A man got on the bus this afternoon and made an announcement: “you guys are all hunched over and on your phones. Talk to each other, enjoy the view, smile — you are all blessed for waking up this morning. Appreciate that instead of stalking your ex on Facebook”. Everyone looked up, smiled, and continued to their scrolling, swiping and liking. Is technology affecting our ability to communicate?
Everyone has experienced the moment when you are pouring your heart out to a friend, and all of a sudden they pull out their phone. For me, moments like these make me so furious — what can be more important than my over-analysed dramatic story that I want to share? It might be a LinkedIn update, a new Tinder match, or a work email. Moments like these are different than multi-tasking where you are juggling tasks, these moments are called “multi-communicating” where you are focused on two different conversations at once (Eichler, 2013).
The way we talk to our grandmother differs from the way we speak to our boss, boyfriend, or best friend. Changing who we are speaking to (even if it’ll just take a few minutes to respond to that email), shifts our focus and the depth of our conversations. If I was talking, and you took just 30 seconds to look at your phone because you couldn’t wait to read the title of my latest blog post, I would feel both honoured and hurt. Honoured because you are a frequent subscriber of the blog, but also hurt because your attention was elsewhere when I was talking. While updating and maintaining our social media image is important (approving tagged photos, selectively liking and posting), inter-personal relationships are being damaged (Turkle, 2012). In these situations, I often pause and don’t share the rest of my story. A “haha” over text is different than genuine, belly-aching laughter in-person.
Recently, I have noticed so many people looking down at their screens and walking down the street (impressive, but look up and notice the beautiful trees). I notice friend groups who take weeks to coordinate a mutual time to meet up, and spend their dinner texting to coordinate to meet up with other friends next week. While recently attending my little sister’s soccer game, I reminisced about the times where all the parents used to cheer and chat among each other. Now, everyone is on their phones. How much are we missing out on while being connected?
Eichler, Leah. “Sorry to Be Rude, but My Smartphone Needs My Attention.” The Globe and Mail. Special to The Globe and Mail, 09 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 May 2017.
Turkle, Sherry. “The Flight From Conversation.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Apr. 2012. Web. 16 May 2017.