Does this sound familiar?
You’re out to dinner. You haven’t seen each other all day, or maybe it’s your friend in from out of town, or your mom who lives across the city. You sit down, order drinks, and look across the table…and your dinner partner is so busy with their phone, they haven’t noticed you staring for 3 minutes.
Don’t lie, you’re guilty of it, too. I know I am. It happens all the time. The world nowadays revolves around who’s retweeting who, or who liked your Instagram selfie, who viewed your story on Snapchat, or whether that status on Facebook is getting enough likes.
But you’re missing out on the tangible world around you, too. My husband is recently home from deployment, as basically everyone knows. (If you didn’t, now you do.) He broke his phone about a month before he came home, and we got a new one soon after his homecoming.
I tried to be understanding. I tried not to say much, because he’d been gone for 7 months, and with limited access to Facebook or unable to talk to his friends back home. But every time we went to dinner, he seemed more interested in whatever video someone had shared on Facebook. All I wanted was for him to put the phone away and talk to me. I made jokes about grounding him from the phone and I finally told him how much it annoyed me, that we couldn’t even sit down to dinner without his phone stuck to his hand. I thought it was rude and just a way of telling me that whatever he was looking at was more important than a comversation with me. So now dinner doesn’t include phones.
Just yesterday, he came home from work, and was glued to the phone while I cooked dinner, put it down to eat and say a few words about the episode of Shark Tank we were watching, and then picked it right back up. I put dinner away and let the dog out. Leftovers in the fridge and went to bed, with husband in tow. In bed with the TV on for white noise, occasionally chuckling at something the Property Brothers had to say, still glued to Facebook, or a game. I’m pretty sure I was asleep before he got off that phone. (I’m also sure he’ll read this, glued to the phone as he is.)
Don’t misunderstand me. My husband is pretty great. He walks the dog, and puts the cat to bed (we got a cat), and he does dishes and helps me with housework. He’s sweet and dresses me probably better than I dress myself. Even so, sometimes it feels like I’m in competition with a silly thing such as Facebook.
There’s something so important in human relationships. That Facebook status won’t tell you that they appreciated the work you did today, and that selfie won’t thank your partner for dinner. Those Snapchat stories don’t provide relevant conversation. I realize and understand that one of the greatest things about today is how we can stay connected with family and friends across the country, across the world. But you can’t ignore the people in front of you, either.
It makes people feel unworthy of your time, unimportant, and undervalued. No one deserves to feel that way, especially when all you have to do to alleviate that is put the phone in your pocket for an hour and a half.
Unplug your relationships:
- No phones at dinner
- Have one night a week where the phones stay by the door all night
- Turn off all your electronics and do something worthwhile together: walk the dog, play with the cat, read a book or do a devotional together
It might be hard at first. Someone might call, or text. But are those people who might call or text more important than the person you’re physically with? Maybe you’re an avid blogger and you’re dying to know what your stats are reading…*ahem*. Like I said, I’m guilty of it, too. But putting the phones away is so worth it, really. You bring back meaningful conversation and the respect the person you’re with deserves when you put your phone, iPad, and computer away.
Cook dinner together. Read a book. Just sit quietly with each other. Go for a walk, or to the gym, or to a pumpkin patch this time of year. Go to a theme park. Make out. Play hide and seek. Chase each other. Walk around Walmart. Go to Hobby Lobby and craft something together.
Just put your phone down, and show the person you’re with that they are most important.
(And when you’re plugged in, check out our new Twitter and Instagram @thewaylifewent !)