This is an opinion that I know is unpopular. So get ready, because you might have some thoughts.
I think that people using their phones instead of interacting with people in front of them is a good thing.
I know, I know. Before you hop over to leave a comment telling me why I’m wrong, give me a minute of your time and hear me out.
I know a lot of people will say it’s keeping people from interacting with each other. But try to see another perspective. Look at the phone as the thing that enables people to have options and choices.
What do I mean by that?
If someone is in a social situation with people they might know, they can either choose to engage with these new faces or they can go deeper with the people they care about. Even if they aren’t close to them physically, they can interact with loved ones. Parents or siblings or old friends: the smartphone is a new way to connect to them.
It’s a very simple game of options. Would you rather be talking to the person in front of you, or to someone else? If the answer is “someone else”, why deny it? Why hide it? Just because the person is in front of you, does that prompt a necessity for interaction?
I have the same kind of reaction to when people criticize a couple or friends they see out to dinner or in a social situation. I’ve heard people say, “Oh I saw a married couple out to dinner but they were both on their phones, how sad.” You cannot jump to conclusions like that when you are totally unaware of the dynamics of a marriage, or any relationship at all.
Essentially for me, people are judging in a very general way without recognizing all that the phone is doing. All it is doing is creating massive options.
Recently, as I walked down the street, I noticed how many people were smiling as they looked at their phones. Try it out for yourself. Take a look around and see if you notice the same thing. Sure a couple people were probably reading an annoying email; they didn’t look thrilled. But the majority of people were genuinely happy by what they were experiencing in the phone.
Because the truth is, there can be so much happiness in your phone. You’re consuming content you want to consume; talking to people you love and want to talk to; looking at photos of your closest friends or respected idols.
You see downside, I see upside.
This all leads to me being a big proponent of this. And I think historically it will play out in my favor, because options are always a good thing.