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one-hundred-forty-one Years of Service to the Student

Pro / Con

Con: Smartphones Take Over Social Interactions

Editor’s Note: This is the Con argument in The Index’s Pro-Con debate on cellphone usage.  To read the Con, click here.

I’m guilty of it. My phone is always within arms reach. Whether I’m hanging out with friends, with my family, or going on a date, it’s right next to me.

I may be having a conversation with the person in front of me, but in the back of my mind, I’m waiting for my phone to light up, itching to get a message, to hear a buzz. I’m not really living in the present world, just waiting in the virtual world.

So I’m stuck in this loop of waiting and wondering about what’s going on somewhere else, instead of focusing on the conversation at hand.

I can’t ever fully engage myself in the real world this way. What a life, right?

Socializing isn’t just talking with one another. It’s the change in tone, body language, and facial expressions. These signals are what allow us to tune in and empathize as humans, making us open to vulnerability, leading to deep connection. Sadly I’m too busy on my phone to notice someone trying to initiate this.

A 2012 study by the University of Essex showed that people who engage in personal discussions with a cellphone nearby, even if not in use, reported a lower relationship quality and a lower level of trust in others. It’s basic human need cut short by a slab of metal and silicon sitting next to me.

I’m not the only one. According to a study done in August by the Pew Research Center, 89 percent of cellphone users had used their phones in the last social gathering they had attended.

For example, walk into a restaurant and you’ll see people together. But they’re not really together. You’ll see people hunched over a screen with a blank expression on their face, sitting next to another person hunched over a screen with a blank expression on their face. They seem to be having an enchanting night together.

That’s not to say deep conversations no longer exist. They’re around, but they’re harder to come by because we aren’t engaging in intimate conversation due to all the distractions caused by our gadgets.

Since we’re never fully living in the moment we can’t focus on what’s in front of us because of this virtual world that seems to keep calling us.

At a concert, we Snapchat the show instead of watching the show. Walking down the quad, we’re walking with our faces down. Talking to someone while they’re talking to someone else. Not really living in the present world, but waiting in the virtual world.

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Con: Smartphones Take Over Social Interactions