It’s no secret that we are on our phones way too much. I mean, they have become an additional appendage practically. We have them in our hands constantly, and when they aren’t, they are within arm’s reach. But have we stopped to think what message we are sending to those we choose to spend time IRL with when we can’t put down our phones?
You aren’t as important to me as whatever is on the other side of this device.
When my daughter said to me for the first time, “I swear your phone is more important to you than I am.” It hurt. Deep. She was five. And while I know that’s not even remotely true, that’s what she receives from me when I have my nose in my phone while we are spending time together. And we both do it now–I honestly can’t remember the last time we enjoyed a show together and neither of us had our noses in our phones simultaneously.
This summer, I attended a friend’s wedding and made a conscious decision to leave my phone in my purse for the night and enjoy the evening. I pulled it out for a couple of quick snaps of my kiddo, because she looked absolutely stunning that evening, but for the majority of the night, my phone was tucked away.
A few days afterward, she posted a request on Facebook that her guests share their photos from the night, and my first reaction was guilt.
“OMG. I don’t have any photos to share! I’m a horrible friend!” I felt so bad that I made the choice to focus on enjoying the company of other guests and celebrating my friends that I didn’t have any physical memories to share with the couple later.
I bathed in that guilt for days until the bride told me that of all the nice things she’d heard about what her guests enjoyed about the wedding, meeting me was among the top responses. Because I chose to show up and be present, I may not have left any physical memory of the night, but I helped to provide good memories for those that I got to know that night.
You see, I showed up that night not knowing anyone but the bride and groom (and my daughter). I could certainly have stayed in a corner on my phone, distracted by the world away from where I was. But I chose to be present and enjoy the company I was with. To engage with other guests and incite conversation. That night will be a memory that I cherish for a long time.