The human interaction in the age of smartphones

Jonah Hall:

I try to be present at a restaurant, and I have no interest in taking a picture of my meal, and then adding it to my internet life (facebook).  I don’t want to become someone who always watches a concert through my phone (though I’ll admit, I have taken pictures and recorded a song or two before.)

All of these small choices we make add up to something important, and that awareness is something that I fear is being lost by people everyday.  As it becomes the norm to go to rather than talk to friends about where to go for a service or a restaurant, we lose closer ties to our friends.  As it becomes the norm to text, we forget what our friends’ voices sound like.  That matters to me.  I am afraid of losing that.  I care deeply about my friends, and I don’t want to lose that.  At the same time, as people become more casual about friends, I risk losing potential friendships because of the fact that I want a deeper friendship.


Lyon Keating:

And yes finally for technology.  It is the most dangerous but only if you make it dangerous just like anything else that is psychologically addicting.  I used to think the same as you in regards to how you believe with phones vs. email vs. text vs. facebook, vs in person communication, etc. and how it is destroying peoples ability to connect with one another and truth be told it is.  However, when hasn’t technology been looked upon as destroying an older form of how people used to communicate and thus is branded as dangerous and/or possibly evil?  Phones came along a long time ago and for people who used them they were destroying the personal connection between people.  It is more or less socially acceptable to be OCD and/or addictive with it and that is something that people are always going to have to iron out with themselves in order to not be annoying but it is just the new way people communicate and in the end it actually opens up far more pathways for intimate communication than what was around pre-smart phone, text, facebook, etc.  It has made people more connected to certain people in their life and more open to meet others but way less likely to meet others or engage in common day interactions in the short term of everyday life.

Your last paragraph about people and forgetting what they sound like is very interesting.  Only the future will be able to tell us what will happen to us all when we go more and more in the direction of these types of technology.  However, with smart phones becoming the norm and with things like face to face skype and/or facetime on phones maybe people will actually look at each other’s faces more when they talk.  It’s definitely something my nieces and nephews are all into.  So in the end speaking to a screen of someone’s face compared to their actual face and feeling their physical presence might be what’s lost.

One question for you?  How come you can’t alter a little bit what defines for yourself an intimate, deep friendship?  There seem like a lot of options out there for you but you are a romantic about it and just want a face to face chat or a phone chat?  Do you think that possibly you might be a little too hard on yourself in this manner?  Roll roll roll with it:)

Whoa long emails, but felt good.  I obviously like the median of connecting through writing as you seem to as well.


Jonah Hall:

I don’t hate technology, or texting or facebook, and I don’t think we are totally destroyed by the way our lives are different.  I use the internet all the time with my students.  I use it all the time with my friends.  I’m using it to talk with you right now.  To have a dialogue about all the kinds of addiction we can think about.  I’m learning about my own thoughts by going into such detail and thinking about what you have to say.  But imagine this conversation happening on a cell phone….over 128 texts.  Could we get this detailed? It would take me about ten times as long to write.  I wouldn’t be able to insert my thoughts into yours very easily, the way I can (and with colors) on a computer.  We are basically writing letters to each other in this way.  Not something that is ever done on twitter or facebook.  We are e-mailing.  Something that most people under 30 aren’t doing very often unless it’s for work.  We don’t make sense in terms of technology and the way people our age are using it today.  And going into depth like this is much less common as a result.

We learn communication from our parents.  My dad would always say, “Good to hear your voice,” at the end of a conversation. Because I didn’t live with my dad, talking on the phone was a bigger deal.  He is also a good talker and a patient listener.  I spent years in a long-distance relationship with Natasha where the phone played a key role.  Sometimes we’d be on the phone for 3-4 hours.  To the point where your ears would be plastered to your head even though you kept switching ears/hands.  Texting just doesn’t compare for me.  And it saddens me a little every time I call a friend and it goes straight to voice mail and I don’t get a call back.

Good question, Lyon.  I’ve been talking with my therapist about some of my abandonment issues.  My mom clung a little too tightly and was a bit needy.  My dad felt guilty for leaving and when we saw him it was usually very chill, but I’ve talked with him about how he often felt awful about it and about having to go back home alone after dropping my brother and I off on Sunday nights.  I think I want deeper friendships, more intimate, and rarely casual, because I want to be there for people.  I want to help them through their hardest times, their loneliest and their saddest times.  I also chose a partner who feels the same way.  I guess we’re not casual folks and we’re honest people.  Friends that aren’t reliable aren’t really friends, are they?  They’re just friendly people.  It’s always good to be able to roll with it, though.  Makes the whole human interaction thing a lot easier.


Lyon Keating:

I think you underestimate what you can accomplish on a text message relationship.  I like email because I can write and elaborate and just sort of say whatever I want.  Texting teaches you to be precise and short and communicate.  Granted we couldn’t have had this type of conversation with each other over text but we could have delved into a very in a nut shell thought process about some things if we really wanted to over text.  You can type very fast on those little smart phones, but yes, you are right about how people don’t really go into detail with anything these days and that’s where email and talking is so nice.  God forbid you take some time out of your day to have a meaningful connection, exchange, etc.  What happens when we stop doing that? (Although, I guess the definition just changes of what is meaningful by what means of communication.  Maybe someday ultra meaningful communication will be less winded and summarized up greatly in a very efficient computer texting dialect conversation….ha!)

I agree that we learn to communicate from our parents mostly as we are around them the most.  You obviously learned those valuable lessons about wanting to hear people’s voices from your dad and that is great.  I like that saying and I might even start saying it more (don’t worry I’ll give your dad credit every time I say it:)).  Growing up myself I can say that I was molded more by my friends than anything else.  When I think of my childhood, as more and more years pass, I think of a big family where my parents were pre-occupied by doing a million things with having four kids and being stressed in jobs and tired.  I always spent so much time with my friends and my parents were glad to have me out of the house as long as I wasn’t getting in trouble and was safe.  My neighborhood was like a little nest of like 5 major best friends to about 10 lesser friends.  Because of this I constantly wanted to play and be outside and move around and be active.  This has led me to lots of habits now as an adult and it’s weird to think about at times.  You saying that bit about your dad and how you yearn to have a certain form of communication makes me yearn for a certain type of communication as well.  I love the stop by.  The unannounced doorbell ring and hello and spontaneous hang out.  It’s simply the most wonderful thing in all the world to me and it reminds me of a time in childhood when you knocked on your friends doors and asked them if they could play.  Because of this, I always try and keep a certain level of spontaneity in my life.  It’s super hard at times but I’m finding that my career choices and lifestyles really are resorting back to this type of valuable type of outlet and behavior.  It really feels makes me feel good and I can’t explain why other than that’s what I valued so much as a child so long ago and have kept it with me much how you do with your dad’s saying.

From reading your last paragraph, it seems like you have a natural yearning and talent for intimate connections with people.  You are a teacher so that obviously fits you and you are a good friend to people.  Have you ever thought about jumping more into counseling, going back to school, or developing your own situation where you can help people in what you feel passionate about?  Seems like that would really make you a fulfilled, happy person and something that you are good at?  I understand it’s hard to figure out what direction to take things like that specifically in but you’d be surprised what you might be able to think of and do especially if it flows so well off your mind.  You seem to be going in that direction already.

Here’s to the human interaction:)


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