Hey friend or significant other or family member or potential love interest:
Would you like to go out for dinner or coffee or a beer with me today so we can stare at our phones and not talk to each other?
We don’t have to stare at our phones the entire time, of course. We could agree to spend 50 percent of the time talking about stuff and the other 50 percent looking at our phones. Or maybe 60/40 would be better for me.
Of course, you are free to try to talk to me 100 percent of the time as long as it’s OK for me to look at my phone 50 percent of the time.
Actually, hold on a second, I just have to check my phone to look at Instagram to see if there are any new photos of a model’s butt presented in a new and interesting way since the last time I checked 27 minutes ago.
Nope, we’re good. OK. Oh wait, but look at this puppy!
You were saying. Dinner?
Yes, we could go to that new farm-to-table place where they serve your food artistically stacked on square plates. I love to take photos of the food there.
Perhaps we could start the meal with our phones neatly tucked away until we order food. Or maybe not that long. I will decide what I am going to order, and while waiting for you to decide, I will seize the opportunity to check my phone to see if any new e-mails came in since we sat down. Perhaps if you take extra time to decide between the soup and the salad, I will open the Facebook app to see if there are any red bubbles signifying someone liking my pithy and clever status, or if someone has presented a worthy counterpoint to my argument on a political news article or a friend’s status.
Ready to order? OK, here, I’ll just put my phone on the table. Just in case anyone needs to contact me in the next 37 minutes or so.
It’s good to catch up/get to know you. Let’s spend two to three minutes in a real conversation before I pick up my phone again. I will need to reference something I saw on social media, so let me check and see if I can find it really quick. I promise it relates to our conversation.
Oh have you seen that HILARIOUS video? Let me find it and we can watch it even though we can’t hear the audio over the background noise in this restaurant. I would like you to see the first 11 seconds of it before it stops loading and pauses, and then I can spend four to five minutes trying to get it to load again.
Hey, our food’s here. Great. You can go ahead and get started—I just want to take a photo of this before I dig in. And I just need to post it to my social media feeds now.
Do you like how I say “just” before everything so it minimizes the perceived amount of time I’m spending on my phone instead of talking to you? Oh you know what, I should show you my photo from the last time I ate here—I had the stuffed mushrooms.
Anyway. Some weather we’ve been having lately. All this snow or rain or sunshine has changed my behavior slightly compared to a few days ago.
Mmm hmm. Yep. Totally. Oh look, a notification from my phone that there is something new on the information superhighway and it is potentially more interesting than what you’re saying right now.
Actually, never mind, it was just a sale email from Bed Bath & Beyond. But you never know, am I right? Ha ha.
What’s that? Oh yes, go ahead and go to the restroom. Take your time. I’ll look at Tinder. This is fun! So glad we decided to get together.