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Phone obsession distracts from reality

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Everyone loves the ‘90s — the decade of scrunchies, frosted tips, Goosebumps and Beanie Babies. While most ‘90s fads died out, one invention, in particular, stood the test of time: the cell phone. As the years have passed and technology has advanced, our immersion in the virtual world, and more specifically, our smartphones, has deepened. This isn’t always as good as everyone seems to think.

At the beginning of the 21st century, it seemed like phones would only add value to our real world experiences. From being able to take photos and videos with camera phones, to social media apps that allowed us to keep up with the world around us, phones were just allowing us to form closer connections with those around us. They were making past memories last longer and enhancing present situations. Over time, however, phones have begun to take away from our face-to-face experiences. There’s nothing that makes me cringe more than awkward phone situations. In particular, I hate seeing someone desperately attempting to make conversation with a person who is absorbed in their cell phone.

Over time, however, phones have begun to take away from our face-to-face experiences. There’s nothing that makes me cringe more than awkward phone situations. In particular, I hate seeing someone desperately attempting to make conversation with a person who is absorbed in their cell phone.

Unfortunately, I see such interactions all the time. The problem is especially pronounced during meals.
Rather than engaging in conversation, many people choose text messages and social media a la carte.
Restaurant owners have begun to notice the overwhelming lack of interaction as well. Chick-fil-A operator Brad Williams created the Cell Phone Coop Challenge, in which customers must put away their cellphones for the entire meal and are rewarded with free ice cream at the end. It sounds easy, but not everyone can do it, and that’s a sad reality.

On average, Americans spend about one third of their waking hours on a cell phone. While many people are quick to blame the younger generations, a report from Informate Mobile Intelligence, a company that prides itself on being a pioneer in the field of mobile measurement, showed that adults aged 25–54 check social media most often, with teenagers being less prone to cellphone reliance.

Obviously, we’re not completely taken away from the real world when on our phones, but there’s no denying that there’s a clear difference between the level of interaction you can get with someone when they’re on their phone versus when they’ve put it away. Rarely is someone able to divide their attention equally when doing two things at once, and oftentimes our friends and family get the short end of the stick as we catch up on what’s going on in the virtual world.

Cell phones by themselves are not bad. I love my phone as much as anyone else, and I need it to stay in touch with people, to hold on to memories and to entertain myself during times of boredom. It’s what we choose to do with them that’s causing the problem. There’s a time and a place for everything. Sometimes we’re just killing time, but other times we’re completely killing the moment.

Being consumed with a cell phone when someone invites you to spend time with them is not only incredibly rude, but it also takes value away from experiences that you may never get back.

Text messages and social media posts will always be there, but you can’t Facebook-stalk real life. If you miss out on it when it’s happening, it’s just gone. We have to learn to prioritize the real world, no matter how small the moment may seem.

Let’s start a new trend in 2016: actually giving people 100 percent of our attention when we’re supposed to be spending time with them. There may not be any free ice cream to reward us, but the memories we gain will certainly make up for it.

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Phone obsession distracts from reality