How Cell Phone Use is Affecting Us (Even With Drug Addiction)
by Darci Maxwell
With social media and technology on the rise, it seems like people can’t communicate with each other any more. We are too attached to their phones to even look up and give the people in the same room the time of day. We want to talk to our friends on social media more than we want to talk to the people that we are hanging out with.
Unfortunately, this trend has not only taken a toll on our friendships, but on our ability to connect and have real, meaningful conversations. We can talk about anything on social media just fine, but once we’re IRL (in real life), we suddenly feel like we have nothing to say.
Professor Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology believes that these online interactions can make us forget how to talk face-to-face. When you post something online, you can edit what you want to say (and even how you want to present yourself), take time to say the perfect thing, and ignore people that you don't want to talk to. However, you can’t do that in real life.
Real life is messy. You don’t have time to compose or even delete your thoughts if you say something wrong, people see you for who you truly are, and you can’t just ignore someone right in front of you if you don’t want to talk to them. Professor Turkle goes on to argue that technology makes us act pathological (like checking your phone at a funeral), and less human.
Cell phones are robbing us of real conversation. How in the world are we supposed to talk about things that really matter, like having an intervention for your friend’s drug addiction, when we can’t even talk about the weather, let alone look up from our smartphones for more than a minute! How do we solve this epidemic? Read on to find out.
Put Down The Phone
When you hang out with friends or family, make it a point to put down your cell phone. It may also be helpful to put it on silent so that you aren’t distracted every time one of your posts is liked on Facebook or Instagram. Try to get your friends and family to join in on a phone free conversation.
One idea is that if you are at a restaurant, you can implement a rule where everyone has to put their cell phones in the middle, and whoever touches their phone first will have to pay for everyone’s meals (or owes everyone a drink if you have a big group). Do whatever you have to to reconnect with those around you in real life and disconnect from the internet world.
People love talking about themselves, so ask them questions about their life to spur conversation. If they have recently posted something on social media, instead of posting a comment, say something to them out loud. Ask them for the story behind the photos that they have recently posted, or if they posted a funny comment, tell them that you thought it was great (in person). Or, if you’re feeling especially brave, ask them about a hot topic, such as politics or a news story. If you can’t think of anything, do a quick Google search for “topics of conversation” and go from there.
Cutting social media and technology use cold turkey will give you strange withdrawal symptoms. Start by slowly weaning yourself off of your device, by putting it down for just a few minutes at a time. Go to the bathroom without your phone, cook a meal without glancing at it every few minutes, or just leave it in the other room. After a while, try deleting social media apps from your phone and force yourself to use a computer to check them.
Pick up a hobby to occupy your time rather than playing cell phone games or using social media. If you need help, you can download an app like Moment that will track your phone use, and even force you off if you exceed a certain amount of time in a day, or to give you “screen free time” that locks your phone when you are with friends or family until a previously designated time. If you stick to it, you will slowly be able to be free of the clutches of your smart phone.