Wanna Hang Out With Me, And My Phone?

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.

-Brendan

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18 Comments

  • I’ll be goddamned if Brendan Leonard doesn’t read my mind, and then write it down in this blog for me to then read and affirm, every freaking time. It’s actually a bit creepy.

  • These damn things will be the downfall of society. I’ve started avoiding certain friends because I can’t handle the “show & tell” sessions they subject me to. “Have you seen video X? … no! it’s amazing!… let’s make you really uncomfortable by co-watching it right now in this public place while I expectantly watch your face for a favorable reaction to someone else’s creation/misfortune/pet video that I so cleverly connected you with” The worst…

    I’m pretty good at keeping it in my pocket in social situations and getting better. When I’m alone at my desk, my phone, along with the intewebs in general, are a constant distraction however. I miss working on tangible physical things with my hands all day.

  • Hell, I have that problem with my wife of 50+ years, who’s just discovered the joys of texting. I thought it was because we’ve said it all in the years we’ve been together, but maybe she’s more in tune with the times than I am. My workaround is to bring a book to read when she’s busy ‘interacting’ electronically.

  • At restaurants, I play a game: everyone at the table stacks their phones in the middle. If you pick your phone up, you buy everyone at the table a drink.

    No one I hang out with objects!

  • Brendan, you do realize that I just read that on my phone, right? Good thing I was by myself. This time…

  • This is awesome! I don’t think we ever looked at phones when we had coffee in Golden. Then, again, did we have phones? Thanks for the reminder….Sharon, leave your phone at home! Thanks, Brendan.

  • I’m glad you saw the difference. There is a time and place to “read up” or interact on social media and a time to spend attention on the people you are with in the moment. You’ll get it.

  • holdout here, and i really love having my flip phone (most of the time). i just have to be sure to write down directions before i go somewhere, and if i get totally lost, then it gives me a reason to call my mom.

  • Nailed that shit Brendan. Do you mind if I take a sec here? Just need to share this will all my Facebook and Twitter followers.

  • Brendan, I heard you speak at WROLC at Cal State Northridge last year (incidentally, going to WROLC at Stanford next week) and rediscovered your blog a few weeks ago and read your books. Your stories are always funny, thought-provoking, uplifting and/ or inspiring. It’s not Nietzsche or Thoreau, but they are just such pleasureful light reading, never fail to brighten up my day and (I think) really speak to the outdoor community. I would share your writing on every social media outlet I have, but I actually I don’t have any social media and yours is the only blog I follow. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that. I think people are quick to criticize each other, but we don’t nearly complement each other enough when we actually do something well or nice for each other. Keep it up. Your story is very inspiring for every aspiring dirtbag out there. You definitely make me want to live in a van and live an even further simplified existence… I just need to convince my girlfriend 😉

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