Think of a meal out with your family or friends, where you got home and can’t really remember what anybody talked about, if there was much talking at all.
You’ve done that before, right?
Or, have you ever been sat with your friends while you’re scrolling Facebook or Instagram, looked up and realised somebody asked you a question you completely missed because you were too busy scrolling?
So many of us miss out on the chance to connect with people because we’re too busy trying to connect with people. Which doesn’t make much sense.
And this is a big struggle that many of us face. Missing out on events, or entire days, because we weren’t really there.
Physically, we might have been. But mentally and emotionally, we were preoccupied with what was going on somewhere else, inside a tiny box in our hands.
I’ve done this. Lots of times. And one time I did it that made me determined to change was when me and my sister Chloe went to see Busted. I was totally there, physically, jumping around, bouncing, being crazy energetic. So much so that one of her friends could see us and actually said to her, “oh my god I looked over and all I could see was your Shaun bouncing and I thought he must be so fun to go to a gig with.”
But the truth was, I actually feel like I missed half of it. I spent so much time taking videos for my Snapchat Story of the band and selfies of us that I genuinely feel like I missed most of the gig.
And when I realised that, I was really sad.
I don’t get to see my sister too much because we don’t live together any more, but when I do I want to be there with her 100%.
And that’s the same with everybody. I’ll admit I sometimes feel lonely because I don’t have a group of friends to go and hang out with. But moreso I feel lonely because I feel more of a general lack of connection.
Because even when I’d be with friends or family, I or half of them would be preoccupied with our phones trying to get this weird fake connection with other people who weren’t even there.
Which is fucking mental.
So now I try to do things differently. It’s still a work in progress because I’ve had years of becoming attached to my phone more than people.
If any of this stuff I’ve spoken about sounds familiar to you, I’d invite you to try these things I’ve done and see what feels different for you. Here’s what I’ve done or I’m actively trying to do more often:
- Turned off all the notifications on my phone so it’s never going to interrupt a conversation with constant pinging to distract me from what’s happening right now.
- Only use social media to do things related to my business, like posting this blog or responding to comments. No scrolling.
- When I’m out for a meal, keep my phone in my pocket, or even leave it in the car so I’m 100% there with the people I came out to see.
- Start taking walks around the estate or park and leave my phone at home or in the car.
- If I’m texting, or social media-ing, and somebody starts talking to me – throw my phone to the other side of the couch. Or at least ask them to give me one second while I finish writing the text or email so I can give them my full attention.
And like I said, I’m TRYING to do that more often. I don’t manage it all the time, but I make a conscious effort to do it as much as I can. Because I believe that learning to properly connect with people is something we all need to be able to do, and should be able to do. And, is something I haven’t learned how to fully do yet.
So I, just like everybody else, am still learning.
Plus there are even more things you could do. I friend of mine leaves his phone at home when he goes on a night out with friends. They ask him, “well, what if we want to go somewhere else before you get there?”.
And he responds by saying no. If we agree to meet, that’s where we meet. And then for the whole night he’s 100% present with his friends which I think is amazing. If he needs a taxi, one of them can call it for him.
We’re all aware on some level that despite bringing us closer together like being able to Skype family around the world, the internet has also pushed us further apart from the people around the corner.
It might be a pipe dream that I’m holding on to while the world changes, but I think keeping these real connections are important.
Do me a favour, share this post if you agree.
Title image via.