Offline is the new luxury (24)

Irene ponders why in heaven’s name she always has the urge to check her phone while she’s chatting with someone.

This is how my conversations with friends used to go: “You know who I mean, that actor with the crazy hair and the square jaw… you know, the one who played in that film about uuhhh, that film that we went to see together where we laughed so hard.” Or the other kind of conversation was: “Guess who I saw recently! She looks sooo different now! Totally different hair, and her clothes—well, how can I explain. You remember, Lucy from the third year of school? Well, like that but worse. Anyway. Think Gloria Estefan meets Madonna. And then a bit more over-the-top.”

But nowadays, my conversations are no longer as nice as that. Because when we don’t know something, we simply reach for our phones to look it up (like the names of actors) or to find a picture to show what we mean (Facebook pages of people from our past). And I hate it.

Because wasn’t all that “describing” really fun? Didn’t it stimulate our imaginations and weren’t we able to exaggerate just a little or be a tad too over-dramatic? And how great did it feel when that name that was on the tip of your tongue for half an hour or so suddenly popped into your head. And you and your friend could blissfully relax because you no longer needed to rack your brains about it. But now, I notice more and more that when I go out for a meal or drink with my friends, the mobile phones are out on the table, ready for action. And that really irritates me. Everything is looked up, checked and searched in images on the spot, which really ruins the flow of a chat.

I’ll admit right here and now that I’m no saint myself: I am also guilty of often having my phone at the ready. I also often consciously decide to leave it in my bag, however. Although when I do so I feel a secret sense of glee when my friend pops to the loo so that I can quickly check the phone. And sometimes, I even make up an excuse (“Sorry, I just need to check if my daughter’s sent me a message”) just to have a quick peek if anyone has sent me an exciting text…

I recently saw this quote on Instagram (yes, alright alright, I was online): “Hang out with people who make you forget to check your phone.” How beautiful is that! And it made me realize: that’s actually exactly what I always do. Everyone I get together with is interesting enough to make me forget about my phone. But I’ve become so programed to always wanting to have a sneaky peek at the blasted thing. And it’s not even so as to check up on a fact or an actor’s name or to look up a picture: it’s to see if I’ve received a nice WhatsApp or message. Is it possible to deprogram myself from this? Who knows. But what I do know is that I’m going to at least give it my best shot and try. I won’t let myself get distracted anymore and I’m going to stay in the moment with whoever it is I’m with and who has made the time to be with me. And that’s well worth forgetting about my phone for.

Image/quote: Pars Caeli 

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