If you are reading this, chances are you are on your phone.
Emailing, messaging, browsing and in general being consumed by online interactions have become the norm, where we may be surrounded by people, but in all sincerity, respond mostly to our phones. In true “Pavlovian” manner, we instantly jump as soon as we hear a sound alerting us and zone out the real world.
While this trend of in-person isolation has been promoted by most screens (laptops/IPads) smartphones in particular, have speeded up this process, because of their easy access, where every real moment ends in a virtual minute.
I sometimes wonder, how many of these online behaviours and etiquettes are manifested in real lives. For example, giving people our undivided attention when they speak to us (as we do on Instant Messaging), praising and conveying our appreciation of well deserved efforts (the way we rush in to “Like” something on social media) and actively encouraging and supporting others (as we do with our “Shares and Retweets”). Even if we have the right intentions, how much time are we able to give to people around us, because so much of it is being taken up by our phones?
I am sure there is nothing new here. Even more certain that most people understand the importance of distancing themselves from online interactions, but few take proactive steps in limiting this habit, making us virtually savvy but socially inept in person.
Recently, I started making conscious efforts in shutting down all devices and controlling the urge to check on them. The difference I felt was clear. I was less distracted, more engaged and as a result better recieved by people for giving them my undivided attention.
So go ahead. Give it a try. Then let me know. Was it a smart move?