This summer my sister and her hubby moved out to the forest. For one reason or another they haven’t had a chance to get cable or internet hooked up at their house. Since I don’t have a smartphone with a ridiculously expensive data plan I’m pretty much cut off (aside from phone calls or texting) when I go visit them. Some tend to feel annoyed or downright panicky when they’re cut off like that, but I find that I really enjoy it.
The first time I went out to their new place was for their housewarming party back in May. Since they live an hour and a half away from the city a lot of folks decided to stay the night. It was fun actually chatting with people in a quiet setting. It was easy to have a conversation, and relax with friends. I felt like I was actually connecting with people in a way I haven’t in quite awhile.
I think that’s what’s missing most from life these days. Actually being around other people and focusing on them. Having real conversations about things that are happening in our lives, instead of the latest funny meme on [insert random social site here].
Things like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and blogs (yes even blogs) make it seem like we’re connecting with people all the time, but are we really? We text, but we don’t have vocal conversations. We “Like” things but we never tell people how much we like them. What kills me now is that when you’re with someone in person the likelihood of them being distracted by their phone the whole time is so much higher than it used to be.
Maybe this is the old foggie in me coming out but I hate when I’m hanging out with someone and they have their phone out the whole time. We’ll be having a conversation and they’ll check their phone a million times. If you’re checking it to keep track of time fine, I do that too. But when they’re checking their email, texts and social sites the whole time they are with me, it makes me feel like they’re just waiting for the next best thing to come along. It’s as if hanging out with me is so wicked boring, they can’t wait to move on to the next thing.
I admit I’ve been guilty of checking my phone repeatedly while hanging out with a friend. I usually keep my phone close at hand so I can reply to a text quickly, or so I can check the time. The difference is that I’m a single mom. If I get to go out solo my kid is usually with a sitter. So if the babysitter has an issue I want them to be able to get a hold of me really easily. I’ll also check the time incessantly because I don’t wear a watch and as a general rule I like to be considerate of my babysitters time.
The thing that irritates me most is when you’re with a group of people and half of them are checking Facebook, or checking in on Foursquare, or texting each other across the table. What the hell happened to speaking to each other across the table? You’re with ten people you claim to be friends with so why not put the phone away and act like it?
What do you guys think? Have we forgotten how to have conversations in person? Have we forgotten how to just be with each other? Have we forgotten how to be alone with our thoughts?