Assmus: It’s time to get off your phone and pay attention

Assmus: Its time to get off your phone and pay attention

It is the beginning of a new semester, an exciting time for many people on campus. Whether you are returning to campus from spending the summer away and finishing your remaining undergraduate years here or being new to the area and starting your degree, you will most likely be meeting new people. These relationships can be some of the most important parts of your time here at Case Western Reserve University. They might even last long after graduation.

To form these relationships though, I think it is important to talk to people in person and be attentive to them rather than sitting together with a group of people all on their phones.

Too many times I have been in a group of people sitting around, staring at their phones, paying attention to conversations with other people and aimlessly scrolling through their twitter feed. Instead of paying attention to others and what is going on in the present, people are more concerned with others’ lives on social media. It is tempting to do this, especially when there might be awkward silences in conversations with new people. In order to fully connect with others, I think we need to be able to put the phone down and have crucial one-on-one conversations.

Social media is now a large part in the lives of all generations. It can be a great tool to connect to people in different areas of the world, share your pictures and life with others and spread news about events.

The issue is: It is not real life.

Most people share what they want others to see, edited pictures from vacation or selfies that took at least 30 takes to get the right one. Social media is often a glorified bragging tool to show others the best parts of life but never the bad days or lowest points. This especially becomes a problem when people are so detached from real life and what is going on in the present because they are too busy looking at posts from people that they don’t actually talk to anymore.

Social media is not the only obstacle when trying to connect with people who are on their phones. It can also be distracting to be in a conversation with someone and they are texting other people on their phone. Again, texting is a great way to keep in contact with others and make plans, but at times it can get a bit disheartening if I am talking to someone and they are in the middle of three different conversations with people who are not even physically present. Sometimes emergencies come up and that is understandable, but checking your group texts instead of paying attention to the current conversation and what other people are saying is just rude. You might miss out on valuable experiences if you sit around on your phone with others instead of putting it down and paying attention to reality.

No matter what level you are entering at this fall semester, whether you are new to CWRU and just moved into the freshman dorms, or are you returning for you final year or even if you are a graduate student, making connections to your neighbors and others will be an important part of your experience at CWRU. Connecting to these people on social media is inevitable. You will probably follow all of the new people you meet on Instagram or become friends on Facebook. However if you want to truly get to know these people, don’t just stop at becoming social media friends, talk to them in real life and give people the attention that every person deserves when they are talking and sharing their life and stories.

There is plenty of time to be on your phone when you are alone. I know it is a difficult thing to change. Even I find myself constantly checking my phone when no one is talking or in situations where I don’t know anyone in the room. At the end of the day,  everyone can benefit from changing this habit and remembering to pay attention to what is going on around them in life.

Although it might be tempting to spend the majority of your time on your phone playing Pokemon Go because CWRU has many locations and Pokestops, use games and social media to connect to others and then get to know them outside of the bright glow of the screen. Talk to your classmates before class starts instead of continuously updating your twitter feed and staring at the same tweets that you already saw. Greet people you pass on the sidewalks and streets on your way home instead of staring down at your phone and pretending you didn’t see that person you sat next to in class earlier in the day.

I believe that doing simple acts like this will improve everyone’s experience while at CWRU.  The more present we are in the moment instead of consumed with other conversations and information  the happier we all can be.

Abby Assmus is a graduate bioethics and social work student.