I’m going to get into a lot of trouble for this post, mostly because it concerns almost everyone in the whole world including, yes, even my own awful self. But, it must be said: we need to put down our damn smartphones. I know, I know. This discussion is SO TIRED. But is it, really?

A couple of months ago, I met up with a semi-large group of people for a night of dancing. I’d been listening to my pre-gaming mix of La Bouche and 2 Live Crew while I sculpted my Night on the Town hair tower, so by the time I made it to the bar (late, of course) I was chomping at the bit for some shameless bump and grind. Lo and behold, all my friends were already there once I arrived. But, curiously, no one was dancing. No one was even standing up. No, every single one of my friends was parked silently with an iPhone, Tweeting or texting or whatevering away. This, on a Saturday night!

My first thought was, “Snap, I need an iPhone!” My current Android is on a budget network and doesn’t work half of the time, so unless I’m meeting friends next to a window on a busy street within 2-4 hours of my phone being charged, group Tweetathons aren’t usually an option for me. It wasn’t until weeks later that I considered how maybe my reaction had been a little, shall we say, effed.

A little perspective, courtesy of my social sphere: While roughly half of my friends are tech-rabid media types, the other half are either starving, overworked grad students, underpaid not-for-profit folks, or (let’s not beat around the bush here) straight-up hippies. I have several friends who don’t even own cell phones, much less fancypants mobile browsing devices. Whenever one from this group contemplates caving to the pressures of our mobile phone society, the others protest, “Nooooo! Don’t leave usssss!” which has so far proven successful in keeping me with a reliably cell-free pal contingency. I don’t even consider whipping out my phone when in the company of these (mostly) ladies because it would be supremely gauche. And, really, why is it so different for the rest of us?

I spend, not even kidding, a solid 10-12 hours, DAILY, in front of a screen. When you tack on the 8-9 hours of sleep I aim for each night (don’t judge), that’s as little as—you read right—a whopping THREE waking hours spent not staring into a screen. I don’t know about you, but those numbers kind of make me throw up in my mouth. So, I pose this question: what about mobile screen time is so damn appealing?

Alright, alright, as someone who still kind of (okay, REALLY) wants an iPhone, I actually already know the answer to this question: the internet is fun. Twitter is fun. Facebook is fun. Talking to other people about what you/they are up to is fun, and I spend a lot (too much) of my day doing just that. But, here is my very real concern: have we forgotten how to just be, IRL?

A couple of really good friends had me over for a dinner party a couple of months back, when my phone was relatively new and was having one of its rare moments of working. As the wine flowed, I became increasingly engrossed in my Twitter stream. How amazing it was to update how awesome my evening was panning out for all of the 13 people who pay attention to what I have to say! I think I may have even made a hashtag for horseradish meatballs, which were totes on the menu. Then, my very nice and diplomatic boyfriend pulled me aside and gently suggested that I stop being the rudest, most embarrasing person ever (but very nicely and diplomatically) and maybe, just maybe, keep my smartphone off the dinner table, and I realized I’d become one of THOSE PEOPLE.

Nobody thinks they are one of THOSE PEOPLE, but you probably are. Everyone is. A friend of mine once even wrote cheekily about “iPhone time” as if it were a Thing, because—guess what!—it is. And it’s so weird. Maybe it’s time for us to all to do a tech cleanse. We can practice looking into each other’s eyes, forming and spitting out voice words, and maybe—brace yourselves—even pausing to listen to other people’s voice words, too. We will take turns exchanging in real time. At the dance parties, we will even dance.

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