Shielded by our screens

Shielded+by+our+screens

Walking into a restaurant, I immediately spot children consumed by their parents’ phones and tablets. At the table across from me, a family sits in silence with an occasional question asked, but it is quickly blocked out by the sounds  of text messages being received. There seems to be no interest in engaging in conversation.

At a younger age, I was forbidden to play on my gaming devices at the dinner table. Over time these consoles have morphed into Apple devices, and are no longer discouraged.

We stare down at our screens without realizing that they are isolating us from direct contact. Children today are born into a society where it is completely normal to scroll through social media feeds instead of facing reality.

Social media and technology usage is at an all-time high. Our phones are our safety nets, providing a sense of comfort. We are becoming robots who fear scrutiny and the practice of confronting our issues face-to-face.

The ability to create or hide behind an online persona is allowing people to gain confidence to text the words they would never say out loud.

This loss of touch with reality is a result of the online culture we are all so familiar and comfortable with. Our world is made up of people who text each other in the same room. Surprisingly,  this is not seen as ridiculous.

I remember the first time I confronted someone over text, with fear and uncertainty of how to do it in person. I found myself falling into a pattern, hard to break because it was easier to address my problems from behind a screen. Hiding behind my phone, I lacked the ability to accurately express my emotions to others. My messages were lost in translation, and my feelings were substituted by emojis. The text I was typing on my screen didn’t do my emotions justice. 

Face-to-face responses are immediate, occurring instantaneously. Yet, over text there is more time to craft a perfect response. It is understandable that there is comfort over text, but it can also create confusion: Emotions are disconnected, as tone of voice and body language are almost impossible to read. Complications and arguments over text are heightened. A message will never disappear and is impossible to take back.

If we are not comfortable having face-to-face conversations, what does the future hold?  Everyone wants to be successful, but we will never get there without the communication skills necessary to do so. Hiding behind a screen is becoming a fact of life from an early age – this needs to change.

I don’t want to be at the silent table in the corner, staring at my phone, with only the sounds of text tones and cutlery scratching against my plate.