Can you hear me now?

Put down the phones and pick up the conversation

Before I hop on my little soapbox, I would like to say that smartphones have to be one of the best inventions known to my generation. I don’t know about everyone else, but I love my phone. In the palm of my tiny hand, I have immediate access to the vast expanse of the internet and the cure to homesickness is only a phone call away. What else could I possibly ask for in such a small device? Nothing, except maybe a face-to-face conversation without the distraction of our tiny boxes.

Other than squeaky shoes on uncarpeted floors, my biggest pet peeve is definitely someone on their phone while they are having a conversation with another person right in front of them. I understand that some people are able to multi-task, but it is so rude to mess around on a cell phone while talking to someone.

Saying “I’m listening” and “I can multi-task” does not excuse or allow anyone to stay on their phone while participating in a conversation. This doesn’t mean that you have to drop everything you are doing to talk to a person, but it does mean that you should eventually put your phone down after you have acknowledged the presence of the other person.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt like I was being an inconvenience to someone only for them to say that they were listening, but chose to stay on their phone. It would have been nice if people said they needed a minute and then put their phones down instead of half listening to the conversation. I, personally, am unable to multitask between Angry Birds and a full-blown conversation.

I can’t say how many times I see this happening on campus among our peers. Smartphone addiction is a real issue many of us face. According to Pew Research, 90 percent of adults have a cell phone, and 29 percent of cell owners describe it as “something they can’t imagine living without.”

I understand that it is so easy to fall into the depths of our phones: so easy that it can be hard to climb back out and have conversations with others. I also am aware that I have been guilty of this on more than one occasion. It would just be nice to be able to have dinner with my friends and not make awkward and short-lived conversation because the majority of us are on our devices.

How can we find the right balance between getting the most out of technology and not letting it get the best of us? We can download apps that limit our usage and set specific times to put down our phones. At the end of the day, however, a surefire way to prevent clocking out of conversations is to be conscious of our presence. Memories with our families and friends outlast our media quick fix. Everyone is guilty of this stupid little habit, but if we could all hold ourselves accountable, we could all start to do better.