Why my phone ruined my friendships
Until now did I realise the impact.
Our phones give us support in our times of need. Calling up your best friend or parent when sobbing over a burnt cake gives quick contact. It helps us to feel, well, never alone with our problems and less isolated with an increasing sense of belonging and trust with those closest to us.
I have picked up my phone so many times (so have you, don’t deny it) and angrily texted someone or dialled a friend when in the depths of extreme emotions. It never gave me time to think or to process what I felt, and I quickly outsourced it to someone else (see my previous post on how I’ve moved on from this). When I snap out of my trance I am then left with the guilt of words I said and the words I didn’t. I said things that I didn’t mean, that I didn’t feel. Those words I can never take back still linger between us.
For those moments when distance splits us apart I always reach for my phone first, it is my natural response to try and reconnect intimacy with that person (see my post on the triangle of love). The sweet messages, memes, songs I send to my friends to strengthen that connection weakened by distance. It maintains the friendship for a while as we are separated by time and distance until we can reconnect in person. However, I cannot replace our intimacy with a text.
I have spent time networking. I met a friend in the summer. We exchanged three texts, met for coffee twice, went for dinner and a yoga class together. We now share the same psychology class and have exchanged messages about our Christmas over the break. We do not hang out every day. Other friends introduced themselves to me over Snapchat but at school, we merely smile at each other in the corridor. The difference between these two connections is that one is sustained in person and is stronger than the other sustained by my phone which is weaker.
Sometimes we hear what we want to hear. I’ve been involved in countless arguments when a friend misunderstood and interpreted my message in a way that was never intended, quite frequently the opposite. Messages are left to interpretation, you can’t read emotion, facial expressions, the tone of voice or body language which influences how humans receive a message. I have now learnt to call people and not to leave a voice message (it gives you the freedom to say what you don’t mean), and when possible, face-to-face communication creates that magical spark of intimacy.
I wish I’d known these lessons to avoid the arguments and hurt. I’ve learnt, and I’ve grown, that is most important. It has improved my self-discipline in studying without my phone and constant distractions. Unfortunately, this does mean I frequently misplace my phone and therefore I am very uncontactable which frustrates some people.
Do you agree with me?