Phone Junkie

When I looked at the main page of my morning papers, the word “PHONE JUNKIE” stared back at me. Hmmm…interesting! It’s about people at large paying more attention to their smart phones than another human being. Doesn’t sound good but it’s true. We can see it around us, restaurants, cafe, malls, homes, literally everywhere!

It was reported that such “addiction” causes declining social skills whereby communication has turned scarce and sadly in some, troubled relationships/marriages. I have witnessed many young couples out for a meal, drink or supposedly a date, but were more engaged to their smart phones or tablets than their partners! No one’s talking much these days. I wonder….do they communicate with each other via these gadgets or are they just minding their own business. Is it good or bad?

Fortunately, my courting days were from another era. Those days, the luxury item we had was a simple and basic mobile phone, to make and take phone calls. Well, at least to me, it was just that. I’m not tech savvy but I still enjoy having gadgets to serve my uncomplicated needs. From a cellphone to PDAs, to BB and iPad, I just used them for tasks and work. Yeah, a techie friend once laughed at me and exclaimed that I under-utilized my intelligent gadgets! It’s fine by me because these gadgets are tools to me and more of an electronic personal assistant. They do not replace the company of another human being.

Now, we are living in a social trend which keeping a smart phone close by at all times, is a norm. Some seem to have the smart phones glued to their hands. If these gadgets are used and treated appropriately, they are in fact great assets. We should not hide our true selves behind the phones/tablets. Through my personal observation and random research, I found that many young adults now are rather shy to speak up, uncomfortable with eye contacts, some don’t even like the sound of their voices, there are those who are afraid to speak for fear of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, that they resort to texting and updating status in the social networks. Having said that, I totally agree with the author in the papers mentioned earlier, that our social and communication skills have declined. Pity.

I fondly call my little family “The Gadget Family” but I do not wish for any of us to stare at our smart phones or iPad each time we’re together. Calls are allowed to be answered so as not to be rude to the callers, but make it brief. We have no-gadgets zones in the house, especially at the dining table. There is no hard or fast rule but we do allow some flexibility if any one of us is expecting an important call.

There are times when we do our own stuffs at coffee table in a cafe, e.g. at Starbucks, when we’re having a leisurely cuppa. I love to write my blogs while enjoying a cup of hot black coffee. My me-time is enjoying my cuppa and I take that time to write as well. Sometimes, we got carried away that my hubby and I would exchange BBMs when we were just sitting across from each other! Silly as it may sound but we just have to be more mindful next time or it’ll become a habit.

What people said about having too much of a good thing is bad, is true. Smart phones are useful as they allow us to multi-tasks and make our lives more orderly while allowing us to keep in touch with family, people we know and whom we do business with. But, if we become too obsessed with the gadgets in hand when we’re in the presence of other fellow human beings (family, friends, colleagues, etc), it’s time to take a good look at ourselves again. Who is the master here? You or your gadgets? Sometimes people would try to avoid discussing sensitive issues or confrontation, with another, by shoving the phones or gadgets in front of their faces to look seriously occupied! I hope I’m wrong, but you get the message…Have you ever done it before?

I think, before the situation gets worse, as it is already out of hands, we’d better act proactively, fast! For parents who have young children, be a good role model. You can’t tell your children to keep the phones away when you are happily chatting away over the phone yourselves! “I can do what I want because I’m your father/mother” doesn’t work anymore. They are quick to mirror our actions, especially the wrong ones. Who to blame, except ourselves, of course.

If you are couples, put that phones/tablets down to start paying attention to your partners. The more you communicate the more you understand each other. How else to spend the rest of your lives together when you don’t understand your other half well enough? When you talk, you will inevitably pay closer attention to body language, eye contact, tone of voice, facial expression, etc. This is what I’d called, real connection! Not the WiFi connection, please. I’m from the old school (but not ancient, mind you)….still prefer to look into people’s eyes when I speak to them. That way, I feel more connected, if you know what I mean.

For those who like the idea of having harmless emotional affairs via texts, BBM, social networks, chats, and think that they are harmless, think again. Affairs are affairs, whether they are physical or over the Net or phone lines. You may think it is harmless as no further action is taken. Do you know that emotional attachment is much stronger than physical attachment? It grows in you and rooted firmly in your heart. Just don’t play with this kind of fire or you’ll get worse than a third degree burn.

So, please be careful with what you have as convenience. Do not let your smart phone(s)come between you and your loved ones. Do not let that phones stop you from facing real situations. Use it as it is…a communication tool when you are apart, so that you can reach one another and to make life simpler for you. Not to complicate it further. That is the main objective of owning a smart phone, isn’t it? And yes, I won’t deny that it is also an important accessory to your overall image, kind of like social status. Whatever it is, just be extra careful not to be carried away with it.

Let’s decide to communicate more face to face, like a friend once said, “eyeball to eyeball” (you may laugh if you like….what an expression!). If you find it uncomfortable, do it more and in due time, the jitters will be replaced with better feelings. Get connected the right way. Trust me, you’ll find that you’ll have a more meaningful relationship with people around you. Start practicing now so that you can enjoy a romantic Valentine’s Day!

Alice N.

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