Have you ever invited someone to dinner, only to see them become lost, head-bent over their mobile phones for most of the evening? Have you ever finally agreed to a girl’s night out, only for almost all the girls with you to totally ignore you and each other, after gushing for ages on chat about how long it’s been since you last met, in favour of their iPhones? Have you ever tried, in vain, to grab someone’s attention for a certain time span, only to realise that their fingers are itching to grab their phones again?
Have you ever felt that for some people, their mobile phone is more important than actually enjoying spending real physical time with a friend?
Wikipedia describes nomophobia as the ‘the fear of being out of mobile phone contact’. Although not an official health condition, it is true that the way some people clutch and refer again and again to their mobile phones brings to mind nervousness and even addiction, since like smokers, those individuals would be turning towards their phones for something to do and fiddle with to assuage their edginess. On the other hand, this behaviour could also point towards a problem of low self-esteem, since their iPhone, Blackberry or Galaxy would offer them some feelings of reassurance and act as a mood-booster.
One may sympathise and even to a point understand the usefulness and versatility of always having your phone with all its gadgets, widgets and applications at your fingertips. However, the situation becomes more than a little bit irritating at times, especially when for example, you’ve spent the better part of a day primping your house, preparing a delicious meal and preparing for some conscious group time, and then end up staring at seven or eight people who, head down, mumble disjointed syllables at you while trying to concentrate on tapping the right commands on their mobile phones. What to do when faced with this situation? Trying to ignore this blatantly rude behaviour is all well and good, but when it goes on and on for more than half an hour, ignoring it will simply transform the evening you are hosting into one giant silent internet café.
Realistically speaking, unfortunately, one does have to allow a couple of minutes per hour to phone checking and peaking. Many people use their mobile phones instead of watches, and might have to check the time. Others might be expecting an important phone call or message, while others might have skipped out on an important footy game, and merely want to quickly check their team’s progress. Still, all of these would not require hours on end when you’re supposedly spending the evening with your friends.
One solution would be to be direct and simply ask your friends why they’re spending so much time on their phone, after having decried again and again that you never meet. Why moan about how full and busy your lives are, and then instead of relaxing with friends and a glass of wine, continue to ignore them, in favour of virtual reality?
Another good idea would be to start the evening by jokingly banning all mobile phones, asking your friends to switch them off and deposit them in a communal bag or basket for the duration of the meal. After all, everyone deserves a break from Facebook at times!
My favourite quick-fix however, is to simply send a message to that uncommunicating friend sitting beside me at table who’s tapping away at his screen, asking him pointedly, ‘Would you rather talk this way?’
Have you ever spent an evening with people who end up wasting more time on their mobile phone than talking to you?
What did you do? Let us know in the comment section below.