Unfiltered Commentary

Sarah Harris

The other day as I walked through Tator Hall, I couldn’t help but notice all of the heads around me. And when I say heads, I mean the tops of people’s heads. Why? Because everyone was looking down at his or her cell phone. I have forgotten what it is like to walk down a hall and make awkward eye contact or any eye contact for that matter because everyone–EVERYONE–is looking at his or her cell phone.

I don’t want to hear the excuse, “Well, it’s part of our generation.” Yes, I get it, we’re all millennials and we use our cell phones. But that’s no excuse to use it even when you don’t need to.

I see this most often during lunch and dinner hours when people wait for their friends in the lobby near the cafe. Let’s be honest, we know you checked your Instagram feed 10 times already, and the real reason you’re looking at your phone is because you feel uncomfortable just standing there waiting for your friend to show up. I also think people are just so used to looking down at their phones that they literally forget to look up sometimes. Try going on a walk and looking up the entire time, you’d be surprised at how difficult it is. And then while you look up, count the amount of people looking down.

Because God forbid you make eye contact with someone as you wait for your friend. Or you’re sitting alone at your usual lunch table and none of your friends are there yet so you pull out your phone. Or maybe you just don’t have anyone to eat with. Because, oh no, what if…”What if people think I’m eating alone?” Hate to tell you, but eating with your phone doesn’t make you magically have more friends. In fact, it makes you less social.

Back in the day, when there was no such thing as the Internet. There were plays. Theatrical plays. There was the performer and the audience, and the audience was able to engage in this entertainment. Or they could read books and they didn’t need to be part of the physical audience to experience the play. They didn’t have to be social with the rest of the audience, they could stay at home. But when they needed to contact someone, they would have to go see them. And if they were waiting for someone, somewhere, maybe they would take a book with them while they wait. But I know for a fact most of us aren’t reading books on our cell phones while we wait. And if you do, contact me; you’re my hero.

So why do we do this? Well, it goes back to the idea of being judged and the anxiety that judgment brings upon us. Our generation thinks that if we have a little piece of aluminum and glass in our hand it somehow protects us from the world.

Why would people care if I ate alone? They probably don’t. For all we know, you could have chosen to eat alone. And if someone says in his or her head, “Aw, I feel bad she’s eating alone,” that thought usually only lasts 30 seconds. Then that person is back to thinking about him or herself again.

Everyone needs to take a step back and realize that less than 25 years ago, people didn’t have cell phones. They sat at their tables alone and ate their lunch. Alone time is a good thing. Eat your lunch and unplug. I’m on my phone 90 percent of the day, I should be able to take 30 minutes to myself and appreciate the time I have alone, and the time I could have without my cell phone.

So here’s some advice: put your phones away, people. You have these things on the sides of your pants, they’re called pockets; yeah, right there near your hips. USE THEM! Put your phone in your pocket, and make eye contact with people.