Are Cell Phones Hurting Social Skills?

You see it day in and day out; People walking and texting, driving and texting, out to dinner with a friend or family and texting.  Do we even know what color eyes people have anymore?  Whatever happened to actually using a phone to speak with another person?  Does it take too much time to do that?  Might you accidentally stumble across a conversation that calls for resolution?

Social Segregation is my term for what is driving America’s youth and adults into a state of complete separation from one another, leading people into a state of depression, loneliness and to put it bluntly, lack of caring.  What can this lead to?  More crime, less fulfillment, less living, more unhealthy behaviors, poor coping skills, accelerated aging, lack of morality, lack of respect, lack of self worth….The list goes on.

When I teach group exercise classes, I forbid the use of cell phones during class. I am a big believer of reinstating the rules of the good ‘ole days when people were expected to behave and perform accordingly.  When you are on your cell phone, you remove all consciousness of what’s happening around you, you miss out on intellectual stimulation and conversation, and you ultimately withdraw from your day.  This really concerns me.

More often than not, people ask me to repeat what I just said.  Many times I ask myself, am I speaking too low?  But then I realize that people are just not present because they tell me, “Oh I’m sorry, I was just thinking about something else just now.”  No worries, but it really does worry me.  In a country where people are encouraged to peacefully coexist and draw on endless opportunity, this social shift is drawing people further and further away from each other leaving so many more people lonely and dissatisfied with life.  This isn’t what life is all about.

Life is a gift.  You hear it all the time.  The gift of life should be unwrapped every single day with purpose and good intention.  Every time you open your eyes, you have your source to thank.  Every time you rise from your bed and go about your day independently, you ought to feel so much gratitude for the wealth of being healthy.  And if you aren’t healthy, it’s never too late.  The time is now to get healthy.  It’s time to reconnect to the basics of life. It’s time to learn from global tribes who thrive off of family and community and live happier and longer lives.  We must follow these simple rules to avoiding social segregation so that we too can be happier, healthier and much more fulfilled while we are on this planet:

1)      Put the cell phone away while you are out to dinner.  Unless you are a doctor or a parent with a child with special needs, there is no reason to have it out.

2)      Learn to reflect on what people tell you in conversation.  It forces you to remain engaged in the conversation showing them that you care, and actually keeping you involved and present.

3)      Engage in good eye contact with whom you are speaking with.  Looking around is rude and inconsiderate to the one you are speaking with.  There is nothing and no one more important than them in that moment.  Remember, live moment to moment and acknowledge the people you are with, remaining present at all times.

4)      If you are disappointed by someone or you need clarification that is more than a sentence long, then pick up the phone and call that person vs. texting them.  While you may fear confrontation, the worst kind of confrontation comes from misunderstanding their text and making up a story that isn’t even true in your mind.  Remember, 20 years ago there was no such thing as text messaging.   I know, 20 years ago, but most of us didn’t text even then. (The first-ever text message was sent December 3, 1992, by software engineer Neil Papworth, to Vodafone director Richard Jarvis, who received the message on his husky Orbitel 901 cell phone. It read simply, “Merry Christmas.”

5)      When you see someone, instead of saying, “Wuz up!” Tell them, “Have a beautiful day”, or “Keep smiling”…Say something with meaning vs. blowing them off in passing to avoid conversation.  You might be the only positive thing in someone’s day.  Never lose the opportunity to bring light to them.

It’s time to go back to the old fashioned way of human contact when it comes to communication.  Let’s teach ourselves so that we can teach our children.  You will find so much more happiness and fulfillment in your life once you do it regularly.