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How Can We Make People Have Conversations Without ‘em Staring at Phones

Q: Dear Todd, either it is the generation, or something else, but I feel, people are too attached to stuff – money, sex, food, Netflix, cellphones, etc. Have you seen that movie “ripped” when they fly from the 80s to today and they go to a mall and everyone is with their cells, and they think they’re in a math convention cos everyone has a “calculator”, it is what’s happening these days, I mean, I can’t have dinner with friends cos all are checking Snapchat and stuff? So, how can we return to really TALK to people and make ’em talk back?

TODD ANSWERS: You are not wrong. That is happening everywhere. In terms of what we can do, there’s an internal response and an external response. Externally, we can see if our friends would agree to leave the phones in the car (or turn them off or leave them at home, etc…). We can raise our kids to have very little screen time. We can talk about it with other parents or friends, relatives or the city council. We can start a nonprofit dedicated to reigniting human-to-human contact. We can find people online to meet up in person without tech. We can go on camping trips far from cell phone service (if we’re skilled at such outdoorsy things). And so on.

Or, we could do nothing. We can accept everyone as they are. We can sit patiently while other people use their phone, keeping ours in our pocket or purse, setting a good example. Or some combination of all these things. It’s really up to us in each moment how much we feel we can be supportive of others vs supportive of our own needs.

Internally, I’d say we can let go of our expectations for a bygone world. Let’s love people even as they miss out on the beauty all around them. Let’s be patient with them as they slowly realize the pixels aren’t as good as the real thing. Let’s embrace the fact that this world is changing. And let’s keep our attention on the one place we truly can control, ourselves.

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