by: Joshua Isaacson
“I love when the three of us hang out.” This is my boyfriend’s way of saying “get off your phone,” which is also his way of being funny. However, that sentence does have a lot of reality to it. How many times have you found yourself hanging out with people and they are constantly texting or checking Facebook on their phones, or Twitter, or taking pictures for Instagram, or any of the numerous things that can be done on most phones these days? My guess is that it is probably more than you think, and that you are probably guilty of it yourself. I know I am.
What exactly could be the harm of just shooting off a text here and their, alone or with friends? Well, if you’ve ever tried to talk to someone who is engulfed in a movie, TV show, video game, or book you’ll know that it is almost impossible to get their attention for more than 2 split seconds. This lack of attentiveness can be very detrimental to a relationship. Ask yourself, “Would I want to hang out with someone who is always on their phone?” My best guess is that you probably wouldn’t want to.
How much fun can it be when you are trying to have a conversation with someone and hold their attention while they are busy doing ten different things on their phone and you are trying to interact and spend time with them? Texting, Facebooking, Instagraming, and all that jazz can look disrespectful in the company of others. I know that I have been called out for always being on my phone when I’m with certain friends, and I just thought they were giving me a hard time. But now that I think about it, it is kind of a slap in their face that I’d rather be talking to who knows how many other people on my phone, than to the 2 or 3 people I’m hanging out with in person.
Constant connection with your/my phone can affect more than just personal relationships, it can also have a hold on how you/I interact with the environment when we are flying solo. Countless days I have spend walking around my neighborhood and downtown with my face glued to my phone screen, and the times that I don’t use my phone on the walk I really have a chance to connect with the scenery around me. Without my phone in my hand, I have noticed many things about my neighborhood and downtown Minneapolis that I have never noticed before in the year I’ve lived here. For instance, I didn’t know that there were parks close by my house, or the different little businesses around my neighborhood. I was always too consumed with my phone. And for what? Sending 4000 texts a month? I think I would rather enjoy my new neighborhood and the city that I’ve always wanted to live in instead.
On a slightly funnier note: When searching YouTube using the term “texting and walking accident,” you get over 500 videos of people walking through the mall and running into walls, or fountains, or just other people. I have definitely ran into things while walking and texting on the street, and I’ve had a few close calls that almost left my face being friends with the doorway at my house. It is not so cute when you’re walking with friends and you quick text someone and the next thing you know you’re flat on your ass cause you stepped off the curb wrong.
Another thing to think about when it comes to constant phone usage that does not really have to do with people or the environment has to do with you. More specifically, your hands and little fingers. I don’t know about everyone else, but I know that if I spend too much time texting on my phone that my hands start to hurt and cramp up. Spending a ton of time with your phone in your hand could lead to such wonderful things like Carpal Tunnel and tendonitis (problems that were usually reserved for people who have spend years at a computer). How much fun would that be!?
I believe that it is time to start putting down the phone and going out and enjoying your surroundings. Nature, cities, lakes, parks, and other people deserve to have your full attention. Not just some attention, or “let me just text real quick” attention. Less phone time should equal more people time and better relationships and interactions with the world around you.
Joshua Isaacson is a Psychology major in Minneapolis who wants to research LGBT psychological development and the causes and affects of homophobia on the mind. Joshua is also a volunteer for the Trevor Project, a Diablo III addict, an avid reader, a big music junkie and loves some salty goodness.