Taking your phone on a date
Picture this – a group of friends are out for coffee. There is a lot of laughter and talk but invariably, the table will be cluttered with mobile phones which are constantly beeping. The laughter and talk is always sidelined while the beeping is answered – not once or twice, but as many times as it sounds. In another scenario, a couple at a restaurant are enjoying the date – the man enjoys his fancy sounding chicken noodles and mushroom side dish, holding his fork in one hand and his mobile phone in the other. He smiles distractedly at the woman in front of him and answers in monosyllables and nods while tapping away on his phone.
Welcome to the new world of socialising. Now, one doesn’t merely go out with his or her friends to a coffee shop and a couple never have a personal date. The group of friends are joined by others – friends or strangers or acquaintances- from different parts of the city/country/world and the couple always have people hovering around them during their personal time together; all thanks to advancements in technology.
The problem lies in the fact that everyone knows what the other person is doing at all times. Going somewhere with friends? “Check it in” on Facebook. Date with your girlfriend? Fifteen different people know about it and message you throughout the dinner – and responding only encourages it, never mind if your partner is staring into the horizon while pushing her food around the plate. Many complain about this, parents too, are at their wits end and complain that their children don’t talk to them anymore and are instead glued to their phones during family time.
Easy availability and accessibility is what has given rise to this trend. Teens and young adults are constantly on their phones, talking to their friends thanks to cheap internet and ‘sms’ options – checking email, social networking sites or reading articles. Attention spans are limited – and easy boredom is another evil which is taking over society. It is ironic that while the channels of communication seem to be ever widening, so are the gaps in relationships.
It is undeniable, the ease, efficiency and convenience that mobile phones add to our lives but perhaps it is true that they also cause great inconvenience to relationships? Etiquette is a fast disappearing virtue, along with courtesy. When you are with someone, it is necessary to give that person the courtesy of your full attention. It is not polite or graceful to be staring at your phone while someone is having a conversation with you. Not giving someone in front of you undivided attention is tantamount to telling that person that he or she is not important enough and that is rude and inconsiderate.
Technology has also intruded into actual communication – people prefer to message each other rather than talk. Women complain that men propose or ask them out via text messages and the charm of being pursued in a romantic old fashioned way has been lost. So all is not well in the land of technology and it does give rise to many complaints. The one we are concerned with can be solved though – it is easy to keep aside an hour or two for real face to face conversations without the need to look at a cellphone. Keep it brief if you must attend to something important. Above all, if your friends or date make their disapproval apparent, then do them the courtesy of remembering not to text when you are with them. Text away to glory when you are alone and bored, why don’t you?