Matt Sanford

← Back to main blog index

Looking at Your Phone is Having a Side Conversation

When you're with someone and you look at your phone it is the same as having a side conversation. There are times when a side conversation makes complete sense but not as often as we all look at our phones, to be sure. Thinking of it this way is my first step to correcting a bad behavior in myself.

A Side Conversation with Nobody

There are times when a side conversation makes complete sense, A good example is when you ask a 3rd party for something quick. Can you grab me a drink? What was that one guys name? Your phone can handle some of those same needs (How many people do live in Montana?) but it's important to treat your phone as attention sink it can be.

If I find myself reading the whole Wikipedia article on Montana I've overstepped a social bound. It doesn't matter how interesting the article. I wouldn't have done that if that phone were just a knowledgeable friend from Montana. When it comes to real people I might ask Mike from Montana how many people live there. If he tells me and I turn back to my original conversation that's all normal. If Mike answers my question and then tells me all about Montana's disputes with Native Americans I would know that is wrong.

With a phone I (and many people I see) somehow fall into the trap of reading right in front of someone else. I'm having a private side conversation with nobody. I can tell myself that I am learning something. I can tell myself that I'll relate these exciting new lessons to my friend. Many times there is nothing great to tell. Many times when I lookup my friend is also looking down an their phone. I have killed the conversation.

What Now?

I am making an effort to think of my phone as a knowledgeable friend. Someone I can ask questions. Someone I only have a full-fledged conversation with when I'm not already occupied.

  • Waiting for the bus? Check.
  • Toddler napping? Check.
  • Quiet moment between other conversations? Maybe … it's easy to let that drift on too long.

Conversation: Her life is in your hands, Dude.The Big Lebowski

← Back to main blog index