I’d like to talk a little bit about the damage that the overuse of smartphones has in general. Not just for dating, but for all relationships, and for yourself.
The first time I ever realised how reliant my generation had become on social media was at a fireworks display around New Year’s Day. As I snapchatted a video of the beautiful seaside display, I looked up and noticed that not one person stood around me appeared to be present. Every. Single. Person. There. appeared to be watching the display through a lens of some description. As a media graduate, I adore expressing myself through photography, but at that moment I realised how often I would forget to open my eyes experience things first hand. No amount of megapixels or panoramic view will ever surmount to the beauty one can capture in their memory with their own eyes.
As a millenial myself, I’ve often been guilty of spending far too much time on my phone. I am aware I’m extremely active on social media, I probably spend a great deal of time laughing and sharing memes my Facebook friends have shared. My mother always upheld a strict “no phones at the dinner table” rule. As a moody teenager, this was an abhorrent concept to me; recently, however, I’m beginning to think she might have been onto something.
The idea for this blog came to me while I was sat in a coffee shop waiting for my friend, observing interactions between three sets of two people. Two of the pairs consisted of a young man and a young woman.
The first pair consisted of a man and woman, probably about my age, if not a little older. The conversation seemed to have many awkward lulls. While looking down, they would look up occasionally, laugh, and then their head would be pulled back down, almost as though it were drawn by a magnetic force.
The second pair were talking enthusiastically, smiling and using exaggerated hand movements. It was pleasant to witness two people enjoying each other’s company like that. From observing the way they looked at one another I would guess that they were in the early stages of dating. By contrast, I realised I couldn’t guess at the relationship between the first pairing at all.
Then, I noticed the one difference between the couples. The first pair had no phones on the table.
I wanted to say that the second pairing was a first date going badly, but as a millennial I am all too familiar with the concept of smartphone addiction. I’ve seen couples I am friends with myself, sat at dinner staring at their mobiles and forgetting to speak to one another. Some people almost look as they are on different dates.
The third couple, and perhaps the most tragic of all, appeared to consist of an elderly woman and a young man. Perhaps her son. The older lady appeared to make several attempts at initiating conversation with the gentleman, whom unfortunately seemed all too concerned with the device in his hand. This genuinely upset me a little. How rejected she must feel, I thought, to be sat opposite someone who seemingly appreciates your presence so much they cannot take their eyes off an LCD screen long enough to engage in even the smallest of conversations.
Basic manners aside, you may argue, how else are you supposed to stay on top of a constant flood of emails, social media updates, texts, and calls?
For the next fortnight I’m going to experiment by making a small step, nothing too drastic, but I’m going to implicate a no-phones-around-others rule. Notwithstanding small exceptions for occasional messages to my husband if I am engaged for extended periods of time, and of course the occasional commemorative selfie. I’m hoping that by putting my phone in my bag that bit extra I will be able to show my loved ones how significant they are by giving them the most important thing of all. Time.