I recently attended a panel as an audience member and listened to a really good talk. The speaker with eye-opening sentences was a successful and well-known academician. So no surprise up to this point. The surprise came when his time was up and it was the next speaker’s turn. The academician took out his phone from his pocket and looked at it for several minutes (when he and everyone else were still on stage). It was obvious from his hand gestures while using the phone that this wasn’t an emergency situation. Evidently, the other speakers weren’t appealing to him. I think that was the whole issue. Whenever we chose our phones over people, we were giving a message: “what’s in my hands is more interesting.” I don’t want to add another piece of writing on top of the millions that have been written about our addiction to phones. Instead, I would like to pose a question: Do we really want to give the message that “I’m interested in something more appealing than you” to the person across from us? Apart from emergencies and exceptions, we are making a choice whenever we are with a person or a group. We choose the device instead of the person and this message is instantly “delivered.” Maybe we do this very innocently or automatically without thinking about it in such depth but I believe with all my heart that this is damaging our relationships.
The other day, for the first time in my life – and I know I’m decades late with this-, I watched a South Park episode with the “Buddha Box” that allows people to have quality time with their phones. Those who didn’t want to be disturbed could put a box over their heads and isolate themselves. We’re actually putting that box over our heads every time we take our phones in our hands.
Let’s forget about how we look from the outside but do we really want to spend our lives paying such little attention to those around us?
Translated by Talya Arditi