When we were seniors in high school getting ready to go off to college, one of our teachers stopped class early towards the end of the school year to give us a pep talk about college. We all had cellphones then, but this was back when Facebook was justttt starting to become a thing, Instagram was a figment of someone’s imagination, and people were definitely not nearly as glued to their phones as they are now. Yet even back then, the advice was this: if you want to meet people, stay off your phone.
His point was that it’s easy to make friends when you’re out and about actually making eye contact with other humans. Back then it would have been in the library or in line at the dining hall, but the same principle applies today. It’s really hard to interact with new people when your nose is two inches from your phone’s screen at all times. But when you’re looking around, smiling, and looking cheerful, you’ll find yourself engaging in conversation, which can lead to new friendships.
For the past few weeks, I’ve gone to Pilates class by myself and gotten there early. We all sit outside the yoga studio waiting for the previous class to empty out before we can get in. I make it a point to keep my phone in my bag, because I’ve had some good conversations with other people in the class just by making myself look open and available. But for the past three weeks, every other person who was waiting to go in was glued to their phone, not taking their eyes off of it once. During the class, the girl next to me was actually texting as she was doing her ab work. Talk about extreme. I mean on the one hand, props for multi-tasking. On the other hand, this should be your time to unplug. It’s one hour to yourself. Enjoy it!
I’m definitely guilty of being too attached to my phone too. There will be times when I realize that I’ve walked around the grocery store or Target without looking up more than absolutely necessary because I’m so busy texting or responding to e-mails. Then I go home and feel like I haven’t had human interaction all day. Well, self, that’s because you were too busy looking at your phone and missed your opportunity for that.
I almost wonder if people are less likely to meet at bars or grocery stores or bookstores today than they were 10 or 20 years ago because we’re all so engrossed in our cellphones that we don’t even notice each other. Your soulmate could be right around the corner but you’re too busy replying to that tweet to notice and go strike up a conversation.
Whether you’re looking for someone to date or are just in the market for a new friend, I highly recommend putting your phone away, even for just a little while. It’s quite refreshing.