Monday 12 April 2021
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Drop your phone and let’s talk

Young people today have managed to get it right to look someone in the eye while typing on their phones at the same time, their split attention seemingly undetected. They say it is a skill they mastered over time especially where one needs to text without being seen. This practice has however graduated to the point that people simply do not know how to be in conversation with a real, flesh human being, without checking on their phone every 5 minutes.
The advances in technology have more and more people enjoying the company of their various gadgets more than interacting with a person face to face. “You find that even when you’re out with friends, you are constantly checking your phones or Facebook” said Michael.
This new craze does not apply to only the youth but to people of all ages who have been exposed to the “wonders” of social media. With apps like Snapchat, WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook that make staying in touch with friends and family all over the world and staying current with the latest trends easy, no wonder most people are found practically glued to their phones.
“They can create another life on the internet” said Ndapandula Louw in describing the reasons people use their phones a lot. These sites allow shy and insecure people to come out as confident because they do not have to actually talk in person, it is like creating an alter ego that allows one to express themselves freely. “Phone usage is going to become even more on the increase during these holidays because one would have more free time on their hands, it’s part of entertaining their selves, especially those who are introverts and are not really outgoing” said Michael.
He goes on to say that using these gadgets are what is used for entertainment. The gadgets are therefore used to chase away boredom. However he hopes people do not increase the usage of their phones during this holiday but to rather spend more time with their families.
Cellphones today have apps that render actual face to face interaction with a fellow human being redundant. They have been designed to be entertaining and dependable. With games like Candy Crush and Subway Surfers that keep you wanting more, becoming addicted is inevitable, “the only thing keeping them entertained is their gadgets and their phones” said Michael. By allowing one to do their banking to make payments and socializing with people in different countries or regions, it is easy to become dependent and reduce the reasons for leaving the house. However some people have control when using their phones, “I probably use my phone a few hours in the day. I don’t use it as often as I used to anymore because I simply switch to live conversations when I have to,” said Ndapandula.
The effectiveness of communication and other facilities have made people to become antisocial and tech reliant. Because of the easy access, one can always be anywhere at any time. This is becoming worrisome though. “The world of technology is taking over and people aren’t really conversing face to face anymore because of this addiction. You find people who apparently are on a dinner table but they are all glued to their phones. One wonders why they even went out if they are yet just on their phones.”
Gone are the days when social gatherings were when people would go to a restaurant or to each other’s houses and talk and catch up. Michael encourages people to minimize the usage of gadgets especially when with friends. “Control the usage of social media and try to put limits here and there so you don’t become too addicted. Sometime it is just very natural and humane to have direct conversations.”
Louw on the other hand encourages people who could be addicted to their phones to go out more and to stop using their phones. “In fact, leave it at home.”
Rather than enjoying the scenes and activities happening around one, people limit their experience because for them its just another opportunity to blog or tell their friends about it. “I post my daily activities mostly on Facebook” said Michael. Many bloggers, be it food bloggers or a general bloggers of things, they would take pictures of their meals rather than just enjoying it. Every activity becomes public. From the moment of sharing, it becomes a conversation with all worlds.
The addiction can be a serious issue. Some people cannot breathe without their phones out of sight. Others just need to check on it every minute. How this can be controlled is easier said than done. But the bottom line is that people need to engage in more natural conversations.
“I am addicted to Facebook and whenever I have my phone with me, chances are that I will be checking on my updates now and then. It is very much easy to become addicted to gadgets. In fact, you do not even see it coming,” said Michael.
In South Korea treatment centers planned where teenagers will read, play games and interact without their smartphones and computers. “Even when I’m at work, I do some work but then I’ll need to check my Facebook like every 10 to 15 minutes” said Michael Mulunga.
During this festive season people are most likely to interact with their phones and gadgets more often because work and schools are closed, especially people may take it upon themselves to post and talk about what they are doing and find out what other people are doing. This may lead to a sense of dissatisfaction where one is never satisfied with your life because it appears “less than“ that of other people. Start a gratitude journal rather this holiday and focus what is great about your life and how you experience it, rather to focus on what others do.
Therefore, during this holiday, why not put down the phones and other gadgets and enjoy the company of friends and family. The few moments spent with one’s family and friends especially in this world where everyone is constantly in a hurry, is precious. Savor those moments.

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