I was at a party a few weekends ago when a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in awhile sauntered up to me. We spoke for a few minutes about developments in our social and professional lives and sipped keg beer. But somewhere between minutes five and ten of the conversation, it felt like neither of us knew what to do with our hands. Something was off. One hand would occasionally be used to pick up and set down a red cup full of light domestic beer, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had lost something.
At this point in time, it is nearly impossible to not own a smartphone. And what he and I realized while we stood there dumbfounded was that we were both looking for our phones. We just didn’t know it. It felt unnatural to not have it resting in the palm of our hands.
The phones (an iPhone 5SE and an iPhone 6 Plus) were in our winter jackets on a bed in another room, and we both beelined it to find our phones. It had been ten whole minutes since we had unlocked our precious handheld computers and surely someone had texted. Something must have happened in the time that it took us to drink one half of a twelve-ounce beer.
I naturally had no new notifications and I think my friend had a few text messages from a group chat, but that was it. Nothing of consequence had happened, and yet the need to look down, scroll Twitter for anything new, and check out what was happening on Snapchat was priority number one for both of us.
Meaningful, engaging conversation with someone you haven’t seen in three months? Why would I want that when I can text people in a group chat who aren’t at this party? Why would I want to catch up with a good friend when I could watch assholes dive through frozen tailgate tables?
After the retrieval of our little black boxes the conversation, which at one point had been moderately stimulating, was now dead in the water and it’s all thanks to the phone.
I spent the next couple of minutes nodding along as my buddy spoke about God knows what, looking at Instagram pictures from people I don’t know personally. He did the same when it was my turn to speak. It’s a sad existence we find ourselves in just a few weeks out from 2018.
I’m guilty and so are you. My three roommates and I spend hours at a time in our living room with a television on that no one watches. Pre-games. Trips to the bar. Going to a Christkindlmarket as a squad.
We sit in silence huddled over our phones, cruising the internet for another meme, another tweet, another listicle. No one is talking anymore. I’ve seen entire parties full of people crowded around in a kitchen and everyone is just looking at their phones. Loud music reverberates through the room and we’re unfazed by it. Nothing can distract us from what’s happening on our screens.
Anyone have a charger?
What’s the wifi password here?
The bathroom down the hall has great lighting for selfies.
We sound like fucking crackheads, you guys. Is this our lives now? Can we just get off of our fucking phones for five minutes and enjoy what’s happening in front of us? It’s so ridiculous that I even have to write about this because it wasn’t like this three or four years ago. We all still had iPhones (or a Droid if you’re a total fucking loser) but there didn’t seem to be a need like there is now to constantly be checking it.
I always thought the idea of those “Put Your Phone In A Basket At The Front Door When You Arrive” parties were stupid but after some really introspective observation, I think that’s the only way we’re going to get back to normal, one on one I.R.L. interaction. Because if we continue down the road we’re currently on, what’s the point of going to a party? What’s the point of ever leaving your room? Somethings gotta give, you guys. This is ridiculous. .
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