Being alone together

We send and receive hundreds, maybe thousands of texts a day. I love texts, online conversation. When I wake up in the morning and I read a message from my mother, I feel it like a hug, even though she is far away.

We go to sleep with our phones. At least I always have it on the nightstand, in my bed or under my pillow. I am sure you do the same. Technology evolves and overcomes us daily. Mobile phones “our little devices” are very strong psychologically. I first thought that they change the things we do; they help us communicate more often and faster and be “multi-tasking”. But, in fact – they change who we are.

Some of the things we can do with our mobile phones seemed odd and even disturbing a couple of years ago. But, this has become a routine. I analyzed myself and the people around me. If I were to start from the most important people in the country:

Politicians send emails or texts during important meetings. They pay attention to their mobile phone and forget all about the things happening there.

Students send texts, practice online shopping or chat on Facebook during class. I do it and all the people around me do it, too. Few exceptions deviate from this vice. Last week I had a guest speaker who drew my attention at first. I was listening and taking notes. My phone, which was close to my mother, lit. I just needed a second to lose my focus. It seemed more important to answer that text, but only after that I realized that technology was stealing my attention, maybe not intentionally but with my consent.

Eye contact – it is so important and it is very much missing nowadays. Parents send texts or read emails during breakfast while children complain and make reproaches, without realizing that they will do the same in the future. We are 3-4 girls sitting in the same room with phones in our hands. One is on Facebook, one sends emails, and the other is on Whatsapp. We want all the attention from the ones around us when we have nothing to button but we fail to give the same thing when necessary. Something like “being together, while not being together.”

I was amazed to see people using their phone during funerals. We deviate from the pain and suffering and go back to our mobile phones.

We want to be surrounded by people but in the same time we want to be somewhere else, we stay connected to people in different places in different ways. “We are getting used to a new way of being together”.

How many times have you found yourself in a room listening to somebody because you wanted to be there? Many times, I am sure. If you wanted to be there you would have to listen what that person has to say. But we only listen what we want to. When we are under the impression the man in front of us is speaking about something we already know, we take the phone out of our pockets and try to find something new. Wrong. We want to stay connected, we want to be in that room but we hide from the ones around us. We forget about paying attention, about “eye contact”. You don’t just have to be there, you have to listen to the things they talk. If you were the one speaking how would you feel if others were preoccupied by their phones? You think nobody sees you? Trust me … you are seen!

CEO – of a big Company complained that he feels like he’s alone in the office because all of his coworkers are busy with their emails, texts, phones and they don’t like to be interrupted. After a few seconds he said: “Actually I’m not telling the whole truth. I am the one who doesn’t want to be interrupted. I like to think I’d like to but in fact I work better with my phone and laptop aside.”

We want more from technology than we want from ourselves or from the ones around us. What happened with oral communication? We forget about “body language”, friends, gestures, details. We just send an email, a text message and we feel good with ourselves. The biggest businesses in the world have come to take place online. And I don’t mean online conferences but all sorts of treaties, agreements – accepted by email, fax or others. We are under the impression we connect more when actually we isolate ourselves. We prefer to send texts than talk. What do you prefer: a quick phone call or a short text?

Children don’t know how to speak properly; writing correctly is out of discussion. Parents put tablets in their hands when they are 2-3 years old, just to keep them quiet. Why do they have to be quiet? Because you are too busy with your pone, laptop and everything else and you have no time to talk to them, explain them, teach them, educate them. I watch in amazement the generations 7-10 years younger than me. The difference is not that big but they have no clue about how to use their sight, hands and gestures. They don’t know how to convince somebody by talking face to face, they don’t know how to talk to someone, they only know how to write. They make more and more grammatical mistakes. Nobody checks the texts they send to their colleagues or when they chat. They create their own language, hard to decipher even for me. So, dear parents, whose fault is that? Try to create moments just for you and your family. Forget about telephones, media and online. Fight for your children!

Technology makes us feel alone even though we are not aware of it. I’m not saying we have to give up to it because without technology nowadays you are a dead man. But, give some time to communication, give some time to children – teach them how to communicate without buttons, only using their sight. We have to make ourselves heard without listening to the others. Don’t let phones and laptops to isolate you. Integrate yourself and communicate.





Inspired by: Sherry Turkle

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