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We’ve all been there: you’re hungry and tired, sitting at a restaurant with a few friends. It feels like the food is taking forever. The conversation is lagging. You’re definitely getting hungry.

You reach for your phone and scroll through your Twitter feed or Facebook page to pass the time. Your companions do the same. Before you know it, the food has arrived, everyone has eaten, and the interactions have all but disappeared.

And you’re not alone. Look around most eating establishments and you’ll see people doing the same thing.

What used to be an ideal time for conversation has been slowly overtaken by social media. And we’ve become so accustomed to “checking in” that we don’t give it a second thought.

So how do we break this habit?

Try putting your phone in your pocket or your purse. Not having your phone sitting on the table in front of you will help you not reach for it as often. Out of sight, out of mind as they say.

Silence it. Put the phone on silence or vibrate so that you won’t hear the ringtone that is designed to grab your immediate attention. After all, most things can wait for an hour.

Practice the art of conversation. Look at your companion(s) in their eyes. Be intentional about engaging them in a way that won’t push either of you to soothe any awkward moments by looking at a phone. Ask questions, and listen to the answers.

Be aware of your surroundings. Note who is around you, what color the sky is, the design of the wallpaper. Stimulating your brain on your own instead of constantly being entertained is good for mental clarity and problem-solving. You never know what you might notice!

Our phones are not the enemy. They’re not destroying our culture–but they have become an integral part of it. Knowing when to set them down or turn them off is a part of prioritizing what’s really important.

 

By: Whitney Grindberg