There’s a picture I came across once on the internet about how technology, specifically cellphones and smartphones, is ruining the human growth of communication. In the picture, it showed a before smartphones image, where everyone was sitting around a table eating food and discussing the age of a famous woman, either an actress or singer. In the after smartphones image, everyone is still at the table with food in front of them, but no one’s really eating or even talking to each other. They each have their eyes on their phones and the only words they are saying are murmurs about whatever they are looking at on the screens. That’s essentially the topic of David Carr’s article, “Keep Your Thumbs Still When I’m Talking to You.” Today, I will be discussing the different aspects of this issue.
No matter where you go nowadays, people are glued to their
phones, tablets, and whatever other technologically web-enabled devices they might be carrying. This causes people to be distracted from their surroundings and if anyone were to attempt to talk to them, they probably wouldn’t respond and even if they did, it wouldn’t be a fully attentive response. Some people are okay with interacting this way and others hate it and find it rude. The problem with having personal mobile devices is that they can detract from one’s ability to have meaningful conversations and interactions with the world around them.
There are a few ways to help try and fix this problem if only for just a small amount of time. As an example, a few times when I would go
out to dinner with friends, someone would suggest for everyone to place their phones in the middle of the table, stacked on top of one another. If anyone picked up their phone at all before the end of the dinner session, they had to pay the bill for everyone. This helped keep everyone interacting with the people they were physically with, because no one wanted to be the one to have to spend that much money on a group of normally no less than eight people because they decided to check that one little update on their Facebook account. Sure this example mainly just helps in situations with friends gathering together, but it is possible to persuade people to stop using their phones all the time if given the right incentive.
On the flip side of the issue, sometimes there is an importance to why people are constantly on their phones while trying to interact with others. They could be dealing with personal problems or helping a friend with some trouble they are dealing with, so it’s not like they are trying to be rude and not paying attention fully to their companion, they just also have something important they have to deal with at that moment away from where they currently are. There is also the possibility that people are on the phone because they are checking the time and have to make sure to not be late for a scheduled event,
Every issue related to communication being interrupted by people being on the phone has to be handled on a case-by-case basis. As I learned at a job training, “every person has a different story.” By saying this, I mean to explain that you can’t just immediately write people off as being rude because you only have part of their attention, but at the same time, people can still be guilty of being a little too attached to the mobile internet device in their hands and maybe should be weened off of it’s influence.