Every year, I plan an annual friends weekend at our camp in Vermont. We spend our days swimming at the lake, roasting s’mores over a crackling fire, hiking in the woods, and playing old board and card games. It’s my favorite part of every summer and I only have one rule for those who wish to join me:
Don’t touch your phone.
This rule has increased in rigidity over the years, beginning as a friendly suggestion and evolving into a hard requirement. It sounds terribly anal of me, but let me explain with a simple math equation:
Question: If six friends are together at the lake house and all six of them are on their phones, exactly how many friends are having fun?
Answer: Literally none of them.
Now, I’m not some overbearing Luddite who curses at the sight of a smartphone, but there’s a time and a place. I use my phone often too, but typically when I really need it or for short periods of time when I’m alone. I’m not any kind of perfectionist when it comes to this, but I do regularly put in the effort to improve. Phones are wonderful pieces of technology that offer endless benefits to human beings, but they’re also inhibiting our ability to socialize, to engage, to live in the present.
It’s easy to get glued to our phones. In fact, we become truly addicted to the use of technology through those little hits of dopamine that shoot to the brain. We want so badly to scroll through new Tweets and view every single story on Snapchat because it just feels good to us. But these feelings are fleeting and more often than not, we’re left feeling unfulfilled and depressed that we’re not traveling around the world with our dogs or eating that cool, new rainbow waffle that everyone’s ranting about.
I’m not trying to drive this point into the ground, but I urge you to think about your life. Think about the moments that have brought you the most joy. Think about your current relationships and how you spend time with the people you love. Are you satisfied? Or are you engaging in half-baked conversation with glazed-over screen time eyes?
If you care more about the connection of the wifi than the connection you’re building with the friend sitting next to you, it’s time to put in a little bit of effort and do better. It doesn’t feel nice to be the person on the receiving end of a dead conversation. Some suggestions? Put your phone away when you’re out at dinner. Strike up new kinds of conversation to avoid awkward lulls. Keep your phone away from your bed at night. Fill your time with more personally enhancing activities. The list goes on and on.
Relationships are like flowers, if you don’t constantly water them, they’ll die. Your phone will always be there. Put that thing on silent and go live your life.