Editor’s Note: This is a guest post. Kirill Shulman is a Search Engine Optimization and Social Media marketing specialist, with great passion for blogging and anything viral which still maintains a strong grip of the real world.. Follow him here and here.
We exist in many forms online, yet we exist in only one form offline.
And if my statement is correct then I must ask the following questions:
Why do we care less and less about our physical presence but care more and more about our online profiles?
When did a notification get more important than human interaction?
And why do we find it easier to look into a screen than into someone’s eyes?
I grew up to believe that conversations should exist with certain ethics bound to them, for example; if you receive a phone call during a conversation, you should apologize, walk several steps away from the person you were talking to, answer your phone and complete the call in the shortest time possible, to avoid making the person you were talking to uncomfortable.
Or if you receive a text message, you will once again apologize for the distraction, look at the screen briefly, answer the text and get back to the conversation.
But what happens when we get a notification from Facebook on our phone?
The answer is quite simple: we check the notification. Now, if it was anything important we will “Like” the content or even respond, but then we will drift away to the news feed, incoming messages, a friend’s wall and maybe some “memes” followed by opening a game.
All that, while we have a real person in front of us, sitting there, talking, waiting, watching us sink deeper into the social bubble of our parallel existence.
For me, the most horrible of all situations is the one where – for no apparent reason (or at least so it seems to me) – the person in front of me pulls out the phone and starts checking the feed or playing a game while trying to maintain the conversation.
Why not just say: “Hey dude, you are boring me, let’s switch a topic”. In which universe is it more ethical to stare at a screen instead? And don’t you find this to be more insulting than having the person just saying to your face: “You are boring, shut up!” I know I do.
I tried to stop talking once to a friend who pulled out his smartphone during a conversation with me, he didn’t even notice it. We sat there for about 45 minutes and then he said that he has to go home. On other occasions I would try to make the person who pulled a smartphone confused by asking him questions that can’t be answered with generic comments like “aha” and “oh yeah”. Then they pull their heads out of the screen, ask me to repeat the question, answer it and dive back into the phone. I even tried taking my stuff and just walking away from the person few times. I got mixed responds ranging from “Did something happen?” and “Why are you leaving?”.
In the most extreme cases the person would ask me:”What’s up?” without even taking his eyes off the screen and greeting me farewell.
Many times I stopped and thought that maybe the reason why people pull out their smartphones when they talk to me is because I’m boring, or am I just not as interesting as a smartphone?