(whose ‘friends’ are in inverted commas now, huh?)
I blog about things that happen to me, right, and often those things involve other human beings, because even I can’t exclusively play Football Manager by myself, listening to nothing but the Tetris soundtrack and the sound of teardrop-like rain splattering down the window to my left that provides a view of, yet fundamental divide from, the other seven billion humans on this planet. Once, I talked about two of my friends hooking up, and now I’ve been encouraged to tear into another mate for committing the heinous crime of not giving the rest of us their perpetual undivided attention, as if we’re all simultaneously and unparadoxically the centre of each and every universe in existence; and while I kinda wanted to turn this into a weirdly personal, yet ultimately anonymous roast of said friend, I’m not too eager for this blog to degenerate into a WordPress version of EpicLloyd’s excellent Dis Raps For Hire series, where I’ll be whoring out my critiquing talents for five minutes of gratitude at the start of a conversation and a total of five views in the process.
That being said, I’d like to get annoyed instead at people in general who use their phones in social events. The usual unpleasantries have been well-documented all across the Internet, so I’m gonna make the point that screen-staring in such a context is harmful for the screen-starer themselves, because they’re prioritising a technology-based form of communication over a face-to-face one. I’d argue that being skilled in the latter is intrinsically more useful, considering humans have kinda evolved to have faces and use them to communicate with other humans with faces, and so many more people engage in real-life conversations than they do ones over Facebook Messenger. Also, when the majority of jobs and university courses prioritise interpersonal skills – why do you think interviews are conducted face-to-face and not in a rap battle-style contest to find the most original emoji combinations? – it’s hard to argue that specifically conversational, not just broadly communicative, skills aren’t integral to our society.
But even if face-to-face conversations aren’t inherently more valuable, there’s the practical difference between these kinds of interaction that, in general, a text conversation can be continued at any time, whereas a real-life conversation can only be conducted now, while all the participants in the conversation are present and willing to engage in it. Of course, you can have real-time conversations over text or Facebook, but many of such conversations can span days and whole weeks, with each participant chipping in whenever they get a free minute between two annoyingly close together lectures. Ultimately, text-based talks can operate on a real-time or an extended-time level, a kind of flexibility offered by the wedge between you of your phones that you simply don’t get when talking to someone for real; you can’t just piss off and play Fire Emblem for three hours in the middle of a real-life conversation, because social taboos around those conversations have become far more entrenched into our behaviour.
I don’t want to preach, though, and a lot of people will have genuinely important things to slide their fingers over instead of engaging with the people around them, and I’m not going to call for a universal ban on texting in public places, like a kind of Thai policy to force people to be happy in each other’s company or die. Social interactions are, by their very nature, based on winging it, deciding what is appropriate in individual contexts and changing your behaviour accordingly; otherwise you’ll end up as the dickhead who’s a lofty, dismissive bastard and won’t change their conversational style to suit anyone else’s (i.e. me).
That being said dude, we were all, like, talking to each other and you were just sitting there on your phone; either put it down for a second or invite us all into your chat 🙂