Without fail, every time I have my cell phone near me, I am on it checking Instagram, watching Snapchat stories, or sending texts. It’s a frustrating and infuriating habit, and yet, I’m constantly doing it.
I see it everywhere I go, adding to my own bad behavior; at the coffee shop, at a restaurant, sitting with a beer in hand at a pregame—essentially any place where people congregate. Our interactions are now filled with long, drawn out periods of time without a word being said, eyes glued to the screen and the white noise of real life going on unnoticed.
The sad reality is that this new age habit is really starting to drown out what could be great moments in time. Instead of enjoying each other’s company, doing the spontaneous, or just appreciating the moment, we are often disconnected when we get together.
The other night I was out with a few buddies for drinks. We were at our favorite bar, surrounded by people amid plenty of sounds of laughter and good times. After ordering our beers, the four of us sat down at a table and pulled out our phones. There was no joking around with each other, no talking to girls, not even some people watching (you know there is a problem when you don’t have time to people watch). It was more important to check how many likes I had gotten on my latest Instagram photo.
My phone has become a distraction from what it takes to be a thoughtful, considerate, and engaging human being. It’s part of a larger issue of always worrying if I am spending my time properly. Making any decision that involves commitment is like pulling f*cking teeth for me. If I go to a bar to start my night, I can’t stop thinking about the other six bars down the street. Is there a better crowd? Is there a girl there I would want to talk to? Where is my buddy? Wasn’t he coming out tonight? Let me text him, stare at my screen awaiting his response to find out.
I often spend most of my night trying to see too many people, or end up doing too many things. The result is not spending enough time to really enjoy any one place or person.
Many of us love a large network of friends. We need to be communicating at all times, sending a Snapchat of your pancakes and commenting on your friend’s Instagram photo while sustaining four text conversations at once. We don’t want to be left out.
Feeling relevant is an addictive feeling, but more and more, the people we are actually with are losing their significance in our lives.
A few days ago, I went to the beach with one of my best friends. It was a gorgeous summer day (a day us New Englanders don’t get enough of). As soon as we parked, we made the conscious decision to leave our phones in the car. It was three hours of talking and enjoying ourselves and it was the most relaxing and satisfying three hours I can remember. No interruptions or mental lapses, no getting five minutes into a story only to look over and see him zoned out in his phone, faking interest.
Just as any other bad habit, it is going to take a deliberate attempt to break, but I am going to try.
Our world is surrounded by people secluding themselves in an effort to feel more connected. Why not enjoy whomever you’re with, where you are, and what you’re doing in the moment? Life is too short to knowingly waste any of it.
Words of wisdom: save the social media perusing for killing time in the bathroom.