Put Down Your Phone and Look Up

When you wait for the bus or train, hop into a taxi, stand uncomfortably in an elevator, wait in the miserable line that is TSA, sit alone and wait for friends to meet you at the restaurant or bar, or plain old sit in boredom, there is typically one constant amidst the sea of scenarios: you combat your discomfort by checking your phone. As humans we want to feel secure, and few things have proven to provide more security than our smartphones.

You scroll through your Facebook feed and let everyone know how annoying you find TSA's astronomically long wait periods. You text your friends repeatedly, requesting ETA updates, so that you can escape the awkwardness that is being the one person at the bar who doesn't yet have a conversation partner. Hell, most amazingly enough, even when your friends are right there in front of you explaining how they almost got clipped by a cab and had to break up a fight between The Jets and The Sharks en route to meeting you, still you treat their narrative as if it's only the second most important thing right now. The first, of course, is attending to your other friend who told you hours ago he won't make it tonight, but declined the invitation in the form of a song lyric via text message, and you humor him with the reply text, "Haha," (and inevitably Autocorrect makes it "hash").

Our phones are awesome, but at the same time they turn us into the shittiest people. Let's be real, it's downright rude to be engaged in an active conversation with someone and begin texting anyone else during the conversation. By texting away, you essentially tell the person in front of you, "I don't care about what you're telling me right now, and what's on my screen is way better." Your friend in front of you could be telling you how he not only fought off The Sharks, but got caught in an M-F'ing SHARKNADO as well, and it still wouldn't be interesting enough. I'm sure he feels like it was worth his troubles to escape death for you, only to be ignored. But if the roles were reversed, and the SHARKNADO story was coming at you via text message, it would have your full attention.

 In theory, we go out with our friends because we want to talk to them. Why then, do we proceed to talk to EVERYONE ELSE who isn't there? Are we so concerned with tempering their FOMO that we're willing to sacrifice our own enjoyment of the moment? I wrote in a previous post that we talk like jackasses in person. It's harder to talk like a jackass in text, so maybe that's why we default to it. Maybe we just don't realize how shitty it actually makes us. Or maybe we do, and we think our shit doesn't stink. In any case, I'm calling out everyone, including myself, on this fecal matter of phone fraternization.

Can we just put our phones down for five minutes and show each other some goddamn courtesy? Whatever it is can wait, and in this world of increasingly communication-phobic citizens, if it really can't wait you'll probably get a phone call because, let's be honest, outside of the weekly call to Mom and Dad, you haven't used the PHONE app on your phone (yes, it's an app) in four days.

This is a rally cry to become more civilized, a call to arms to stop using our thumbs, motivat--**BUZZ**--

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Author: Rajiv Nathan 

Rajiv Nathan is the co-founder of Idea Lemon with a background in digital and mobile strategy. He is passionately curious, a people-meeter and lives by the motto, "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take."