Body language is key in the art of communication. Non-verbal signals identify what emotion the person in front of us is feeling: The look on their face, the way they sit, what their hands are doing, and what their eyes are fixed on. Face to face exchanges are hard to come by these days because most of time face to face means face to Facebook. Face to Instagram. Face to Twitter.
When I walk into a classroom and I settle in, the first thing I do is pull out my phone. It’s that awkward silence I don’t like, so I cover it up with a phone in my face, with status’ I’ve already read, with an Instagram I’ve already ‘liked.’ There may not be anything gossip-worthy or jaw-dropping on social media but my phone is my security blanket that gets me through.
I know I’m not the only one because when I look up, I see a sea of lights shining off of 15 other phones.
But it’s not just in awkward silence that the screens come out. We also have to tell the world when we are having a good time. We filter and edit a photo that shows that cup of coffee we are drinking, that really awesome concert, the beautiful view of a finished hike, or a ‘selfie’ just because.
While moments like these may be memorable, perhaps your “friend” from high school that you’ve talked to one time in your life doesn’t need to know. Maybe there’s value in taking it in for yourself or keeping a special moment between you and your friend.
But why do we feel the need to document special moments all the time? And are we really truly enjoying our time with an invention glued to our hands?
Look Up is video that went viral. It testifies to the plight that our generation has ignored.
“So when you’re in public, and you start to feel alone
Put your hands behind your head, step away from the phone!
You don’t need to stare at your menu, or at your contact list
Just talk to one another, learn to coexist
I can’t stand to hear the silence of a busy commuter train
Where no one wants to talk for the fear of looking insane
We’re becoming unsocial, it no longer satisfies
To engage with one another, and look into someone’s eyes
So don’t give in to a life where you follow the hype
Give people your love, don’t give them your ‘like’
Disconnect from the need to be heard and defined
Go out into the world, leave distractions behind.”
I’d like to think that I have self control over the little square device in my pocket, but more often than not I wonder if it has control over me. Because whether it’s out of habit or curiosity, there’s just something about that phone that pulls me in.
Real life is messy. It includes awkward silences and non-edited moments. Wanderlust isn’t a thing to be hash-tagged, and it won’t be achieved in 140 characters. Go out and live life, but first lets put down our phones.