For the Sake of Our Friendship, Please Put Away Your iPhone.

Self on 01.03.13
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Photo: renatomitra/Creative Commons

Last week I filled up my car and went to pay. The cashier was on her iPhone and didn’t look up. “Hi,” I said. No answer. I was already late to pick up the toddler from nursery school. After a few more seconds, she confirmed the price. Her eyes shot back to her phone as I inserted my Visa and proceeded to pay. She passed me my receipt, but didn’t acknowledge my goodbye. I left with that sour taste in my mouth that’s becoming familiar. The truth is, I’m sick of people’s iPhones.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down to visit with a friend, only to see the iPhone get whipped out of their pocket and placed on the table between us, like an uninvited third party. I receive text messages saying, “Thinking of you!” I know I’m supposed to text back a reciprocal message, but frustration incapacitates me. Surely I deserve more than a text as a sign of caring. 

Animated group discussions end in an over-enthusiastic person offering to Google whatever fact we can’t agree on, but by the time he figures it out, conversation has moved on and the discovery is no longer relevant. 

Wonderful, personal stories stagnate when a person whips out their iPhone to illustrate their experience. Instead of maintaining eye contact, I bend over a miniature screen and squint at an image that must be explained. Since when did the art of storytelling become reliant on digital photography?

The iPhone has prevented me from striking up conversations with strangers because they are so riveted by their interaction with their phone that any polite, friendly interruption would seem totally out of place. And some wonder why they have trouble meeting people! Throw away that phone in public, I advise, because it’s downright intimidating.

The brand-name love gets irritating, too. As a committed Apple user, I admire iPhone technology, but hate when people refer ostentatiously to their “iPhones.” I suppose this makes sense if the New York Times is right in saying that iPhone users’ brains respond to the sound of their phones in the same way that they respond to love and compassion. 

That’s why it was refreshing to read one mom’s 18-point contract for her thirteen-year-old son, upon his receiving an iPhone for Christmas. Many of the points she insists upon are ones that would solve the huge breaches in social etiquette that are slowly becoming acceptable with our widespread worship of the iPhone. The points that impressed me the most were leaving it at home when he goes to school (to encourage him to talk with the people he usually texts) and to silence it in public or when talking to another person. Thank goodness this mother is doing her job as a parent and showing her child that he cannot become rude simply because he has an iPhone, because there is more to life than that; there are windows to gaze out, people to talk to, things to wonder about without Googling. There’s life to be lived.

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