Jasmine Romero / Contributing Writer
I’m taking a lunch break in a corner of the Green Library when I see two friends sitting on one of the couches. One is a woman happily chattering away, and one is a man listening. Or, rather, pretending to listen, as he holds his smartphone above his lap. She is staring at his face that only looks up every now and then, for a second or two. After a few minutes, he finally puts his phone down and makes eye contact with her. That took him long enough.
Nothing is more annoying than sitting at Starbucks with a “friend” who incessantly double taps on Instagram. Nothing is more irritating than a person watching Vine after Vine when they’re supposed to be hanging out with you. It’s just rude and completely destroys any point in being with someone. You can waste time on your phone later in your room alone. Don’t do that when speaking with someone, unless it’s absolutely necessary. Just having your phone out lowers the quality of conversations. According to a 2013 study from journal Environment and Behavior, it increases the chances of the speakers getting distracted.
When you actually speak to someone, you are exchanging expressions and cues within your body language. You are generating tones and moods. You are genuinely saying something, with not only your words, but your hands, eyes, lips, and eyebrows. When you glue your eyes to a screen, you’re settling for mundane, semi-satisfaction when you could be seeing the face your friend makes for jokes that causes you to burst in laughter. Louis C.K., who ranted on the abuse of smartphones himself, said, “You just feel kind of satisfied with your product,” as opposed to the unique, emotional interaction that no machine can provide.
I encourage face-to-face interaction whenever possible. When you have a friend who’s living far away, and all you can do is text or call, that is reasonable. But when you have a serious talk or fight, it should never be through a keyboard. You’re losing almost all the meaning behind every word. You could completely misunderstand something they write because you couldn’t hear the inflections in their voice, and vice versa. You could perhaps use an obnoxious amount of emojis, but that’s not the same. Smartphones can obstruct any real communication between you and another human being, despite the ironic fact that they’re meant for communication. The key is to not abuse their purpose.
You don’t want your friend blocking you out when you speak. You’d hate someone asking what you said every few minutes, as they fail to even look at you. Look the other person in the eye, and say what you mean. Show others you care, and put the phone down. Form a real connection, no screens attached.