People have me worried. At more and more social events, it’s common to see people sitting around, ignoring each other, typing on their phones. I’m seeing it much more frequently at munches and vanilla get-togethers. At one point, I was in a room with four other people, all friends who knew each other, all of whom were simultaneously texting or e-mailing on their phones. A thick silence hung in the air, stale and humid. Another friend spent half an hour (I timed her) at a munch typing away on her phone, only talking to people when they asked her a direct question. It makes me wonder why they even show up at social events if they’re not going to interact with those around them. I’ve got no problem with someone texting occasionally, taking a phone call, or getting on Twitter periodically, but when the majority of their time is spent doing that, it’s excessive.
Where is this going to go? I doubt it’ll get to the point where in-person events will be a thing of the past. But all these portable devices to constantly link us to each other are a historically new thing, and society is dealing with the etiquette issues that come with them.
It’s unfortunately common to see people to distracted to enjoy the experiences around them. If something happens, they’re too busy filming it, taking pictures, and tweeting about it to actually experience whatever it may be. Why not step away from the screen for a while and live life?
I’d written previously about how people are often afraid to hear their own thoughts, so they drown them out with noise. Is this something similar? Are people so adamant about avoiding occasional bursts of silence that they have to reach for some sort of device immediately when there’s a lull in conversation? Or is it simply that attention spans are growing shorter? Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in the years to come.
One of my friends doesn’t have a cell phone, just a home phone. I’m beginning to see the wisdom in that.