Hands up! I admit it, I’m outdated! I’m old-fashioned in my relationships, I want to talk to real people in real life, not comment on the photo or video they are streaming in real time, while they are sitting next to me.
Last night I met up with a girlfriend I hadn’t caught up with in a while.
These are my favourite kind of night outs - one-on-one time, talking over each other, guzzling wine, keeping up with five different conversations simultaneously without missing a word, checking out the guys checking us out, then pointedly looking at our ringed fingers and flirtatiously ignoring them, lusting after the must-have heels the mousy girl across the bar is wearing and laughing and laughing and sometimes, even crying.
Connecting - truly connecting, missing our early weekday deadline, but replenishing our souls.
Oh how I love these nights. Oh how I loved those nights.
Two painfully slow hours later of being interrupted intermittently by her fiddling on her phone, I was done and ran out knocking the mousy girl right off her heels.
The thing that really saddened me? I doubt my friend even noticed I was gone. Maybe I should have WhatsApp-ed her.
Or maybe I should have just stayed home and chatted with her on Facebook - at least I would’ve had her undivided attention.
Is it too much to ask that my dinner date actually look me in the eye and talk to me for three straight minutes without checking her phone?
|I lose hours, not minutes, just scrolling down photos and posts that have zero effect on my life as I live it. (Photo: Lovnish Bhalla)|
It always starts with - I need to keep my phone on in case the nanny needs to get in touch (how did it work when our parents went out till the wee hours to places that didn’t even have a landline?).
Then it progresses to - I just need to send this one message, of course with many an apology but, a few minutes down, chain mails are being answered, jokes are being forwarded, apologies vanish and the frequency to check the device increases.
On top of that, there is a need to keep it directly in your eye line at a two second grab-able distance (forgive me - I thought the ringtone exists precisely so that we don’t have to stare at the device waiting for that all-important emoji to change our lives).
If you complain that you are bored of staring at her while she stares at her phone, she’ll immediately right the wrong and make you feel so wanted by taking a photo of the two of you together.
It goes without saying it must be instantly Insta-ed. And because taking photos is such fun the slew begins and, before you know it, you are starring in a mini-photoshoot trying to capture the marvellous time you could be having if there was no phone.
When did we become such addicts? What is it doing to us and our relationships? Having virtual media at our fingertips through our smartphone is dumbing us all down. I’m not against the information or the entertainment, but I detest the constant distraction.
This urgent need to be on top of all that is constantly being posted and streamed is making mush of our brains and giving us all ADD coupled with FOMO anxiety, not to mention the texting thumb pains, a crazily curved spine and the inability to switch off.
I lose hours, not minutes, just scrolling down photos and posts that have zero effect on my life as I live it. The irony of well-meaning quotes that read "Switch off! Everything will still be there in a few hours" is lost on me.
The danger is that it’s a black hole that drags you deeper and deeper in with no end.
So lets say I start off at 9am wanting to catch up on news or information about what's on in town but, somehow, from a piece about pollution that leads to an article about the best cities to live in to "Did you know Icelanders speak on the inbreath?", I end up reading a seventh article about Kim Kardashian’s stolen diamond and it’s 2pm.
I have achieved nothing out of my long to-do list. I will kid myself that at least I fed my head, but, I assure you, I will retain nothing except the details of Kim’s theft. My brain now has become a hungry beast that needs to be bombarded with a gazzilion snippets per minute and cannot be tamed into focusing on one mere task alone.
Just to get this article written I had to accidentally on purpose forget my phone at home and go to the only café I know without WiFi.
My four-year-old has a longer attention span, perhaps because the phone that she has already been demanding for a year (frightening) has been denied to her thus far. But for how long?
So I’m taking a stand to fix this - I’m switching off when I want to be really switched on. I demand to laugh in person and not send ROFL with the latest emoji on WhatsApp to the very person I’m on a much awaited girls night out with.
I’m way too much fun to be defeated by an inanimate object that is connected to a parallel universe that only exists because we do.
And no, virtual is NOT real. While I’m at it, for all you millennials, Pokemon is not a sport.
So if you want to go out with me (and man I could show you an awesome time) then say goodbye to that extension of your arm before you say hello to me.
(Courtesy of Mail Today.)