Phones: A menace to conversations

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Students on their phones in the Caf. Photo by Annabelle Nicholas

Perhaps the most tragic reality of contemporary society is our inability to build meaningful and intimate relationships. Never before have people experienced such isolation and lack of connection — and the culprit lies in your backpocket. 

While smartphones are not inherently evil and can be used for good, their design is addictive; they manipulatively exploit our weaknesses. The deceiving thing about phones is that they promise apparent goods: more connections through social media, the ability to keep up with friends with minimal effort and most enticing of all, an escape from the hardships of reality. 

Luring you in with colorful and exciting promises, your phone will often leave you feeling deflated, lonely, jealous or confused, kicking yourself for having fallen for its fleeting charm yet again. 

The ease of accessibility that these devices offer is truly detrimental; rather than learning how to cope with issues and problems, smartphones offer a tempting copout. Since growth is only achieved through overcoming hardships and trials, it is paramount to cope with and accept setbacks and suffering. Stepping outside of your comfort zone to face challenges head on, rather than escaping into the false reality of the online world where problems can only be temporarily avoided, is vital.

In person confrontation is hugely essential for building and maintaining relationships. However, when it is effortless and painless to cobble together a couple of barely coherent sentences over text, why bother enduring a potentially uncomfortable face-to-face conversation? 

The fact is that the conversations which we don’t want to have are often the most necessary. As social creatures, we must learn to live in harmony — a skill acquired through patience, practice and many brutally honest conversations. 

Not only do phones gloss over the importance of hashing out issues face-to-face, they also detract from the quality of even the most casual and lighthearted conversations. 

Real life interactions are dulled when people start pulling out their smartphones. Quality time conversing is how we get to know one another. However, genuine and uninterrupted conversations are becoming few and far between. 

No human can compete with the instantaneous pleasure phones offer; thus, it is imperative to give those you are conversing with your full and undivided attention. Even the briefest checking of your phone signals to those you are with that something has higher value than their presence and conversation. 

Consciously or subconsciously, people do not feel appreciated and connected when others revert to their cell phones, leading to a lack of intimacy. This lack of connection and intimacy has given rise to the current pandemic of isolation. 

But not all hope is lost. People are becoming more and more aware of the damaging effects of smartphones and are taking steps to minimize their time spent scrolling and typing. 

At UD, I would credit the students’ fantastic conversations to our awareness of the dangers that smartphones pose. It is wonderfully refreshing to witness these independent thinkers sharing deep and meaningful conversations as well as lively chats outside the Cap Bar and on the Mall. I would argue that the lifelong bonds forged between students here are quite unique and something to be greatly cherished.

We are beyond blessed to enjoy meaningful conversations that lead to a sense of deep connection many will not experience in their whole lifetime. Once our time at UD comes to a close, it is crucial that we carry this treasure with us so that we can gently pull people out of the consuming grasp of their phones and into the light of intimacy and connection, one meaningful conversation at a time.

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