• Jessica McDonald

Put Your Phone Away

Updated: Apr 12, 2020

This blog post is completely inspired by the article "Stop Googling. Let's Talk." By Sherry Turkle. All quotes are taken from her.

I came across the article "Stop Googling. Let's Talk" in my philosophy class. When I begun to read it it instantly caught my attention, as the content has been something I have been thinking about a lot lately.

This article discusses how our phones are preventing us from making meaningful connections and conversations with ourselves and others.

Over the winter break I caught up with some old friends over coffee and I noticed the presence of my phone during these conversations to be very significant.

After several coffee dates I began to notice that just the mere placement of my phone on the table distracted me and made it hard to be fully present with the person I was with.

Seeing people you haven't connected with in months is already overwhelming but the addition of a phone taking your focus away makes it all the more anxiety inducing. As I saw more friends, I began to put my phone in my bag instead of sitting it on the table. Genuinely, I cannot believe the difference it made in my mood, my focus and my enjoyment of the event. Without the awareness of my phone I was able to fully engage and be present interacting with the people I love.

This was further proven to be true for me when I read this "Studies of conversation both in the laboratory and in natural settings show that when two people are talking, the mere presence of a phone on a table between them or in the periphery of their vision changes both what they talk about and the degree of connection they feel. People keep the conversation on topics where they won't mind being interrupted. They don't feel as invested in each other. Even a silent phone disconnects us."

Now this hit home. Sherry Turkle rained more knowledge upon me when she began to discuss ways to improve this issue.

"We face a significant choice. It is not about giving up our phones but about using them with greater intention. "

"We can choose not to carry our phones all the time. We can park our phones in a room and go to them every hour or two while we work on other things or talk to other people. We can carve out spaces at home or work that are device-free, sacred spaces for the paired virtues of conversation and solitude. Families can find these spaces in the day to day -- no devices at dinner, in the kitchen and in the car. Introduce this idea to children when they are young so it doesn't spring up as punitive but as a baseline of family culture. In the workplace, too, the notion of sacred spaces makes sense: Conversation among employees increases productivity."

Our phones are what is stopping us from being completely alone. Even when we aren't around anyone, we are never alone because our phones always keep us in the know.

"In solitude we find ourselves; we prepare ourselves to come to conversation with something to say that is authentic, ours. If we can't gather ourselves, we can't recognize other people for who they are. If we are not content to be alone, we turn others into the people we need them to be. If we don't know how to be alone, we'll only know how to be lonely."

I believe that in life our greatest power is connection. Within ourselves, others, and through conversation. Our phones are preventing us from this in such great magnitude. It requires intention, thought and purpose but we can control our lives and our phones. They don't need to control us.

I encourage myself and you to resist the urge to pick up your phone, leave it out of sight while you engage in an enjoyable interaction, conversation or activity. We must give ourselves the space from our phones to learn and grow into the people we are meant to be.

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