Opinion: Get off your phone, pay attention to life

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Smartphones can be great tools, but we all need to start paying attention to the people around us and be in the moment instead of being obsessively concerned about what is happening on our phones.

I will be the first to admit that I am one of those people that needs a time-out from my smartphone every now and then. It’s easy to get caught up in tweets, texts, Buzzfeed articles and Flappy Bird, but I think it’s high time for a wake up call.

How many times have you been at the dinner table and everyone you are with is silently checking their phone? Beside being incredibly rude, you’re missing a golden opportunity to catch up with the people you are having dinner with. At my parents’ house, it’s an unspoken rule that we never have our phones out at the dinner table. It’s always been understood that dinner is the time to talk to each other and have quality family time.

From what I have observed during my three years at K-State, students generally aren’t bothered by someone casually checking their phone at a meal – but they should be bothered. Have you ever been in the middle of a story and you realize the person you are trying to talk to is more interested in their game of “2048” than in what you have to say? Yeah, it’s annoying. Then, once they finally realize you’re talking to them, you have to start the story all over.

A good friend of mine once told me a story about going out to dinner with a group of friends she hadn’t seen in a long time. They made a rule that everyone had to put their phone in the middle of the table, face down. The first person to check their phone had to pay for everyone’s meal. It may seem harsh, but it worked! They had a great time catching up on the past and making new memories together without Instagramming their food or checking-in on Four Square.

The classroom is another place where smartphones need to be put away. When you are in class, be in class. You have one chance to listen to the lecture, get the notes firsthand and ask questions. If you could bump up your grade from a B to an A just by putting down the smartphone and listening, why not make that easy change? Plus, once again, it’s rude to be on your phone while your professor is taking the time to help you learn about your future career. Not to mention, you’re paying for your classes; you only get out what you put in. I think a lot of us would be pleasantly surprised how much better we could do in school by just turning off our phones in class.

It should be obvious that being on your phone during a meeting, interview, date or class is bad etiquette, but what about hanging out with friends and family? If all someone is doing is watching television, it might not be a bad time to reply to texts and check social media. However, if you’re with your 3-year-old niece, she shouldn’t have to wait on you to get off the phone before you’ll play dress up with her.

Life may be short, but it is filled with precious moments. I’ve seen all of my siblings get married, and was with my brother on the day of both his daughters’ births. Of course I tweeted, Facebooked and texted my entire list of contacts the news, but I did so at an appropriate time.

My point is, there is a time and a place to be on your smartphone. If we all took the time to be in the moment and enjoy our loved loves, we’ll get so much more out of life. Though the world we live in relies on technology, that doesn’t mean we have to use be plugged in 24/7.

Hayley Lollar is a junior in mass communications. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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