to the girl who looked more at her phone than into his eyes

To the girl who looked more at her phone than into her boyfriend’s eyes,

Surprise! You’ve been caught. I saw you. Not. Even. Once. Not even once did you look into your boyfriend’s beautifully colored eyes as you sat with him on that black leather couch in the corner of the coffee shop. I was sitting twenty feet away, my nose buried in my book, and I still saw more of his eyes than you did.

Why?

Because you were too busy staring down at a little box in your hand, swiping through other people’s lives on social media. You were too preoccupied with SnapChats, texts, and pictures to look him right in his face and have a genuine conversation. I legitimately watched as he sat across from you, waiting for you to finish sending a duck-face to someone on SnapChat. Not even kidding. You can’t deny it. I saw you.

Your phone can wait. Those messages can wait. The alerts, the notifications, the questions unanswered; those can all wait. Your boyfriend, sitting across the couch from you, is a person. He is a human being. I am sure he is patient, but he will not wait forever. He deserves to be treated with more respect than what you were showing him this afternoon. Whether intentionally or not, by sitting on your phone instead of looking him in the eyes, you told him that he’s not worth focusing on, even for a few minutes. He’s just background noise. He’s just an accessory in your afternoon excursions. He’s just your method of payment for your outings (ziiiiing. Oh yes I did).

How clear do I have to say it for you to understand that human, face-to-face interaction and relationships are infinitely better than hiding behind a phone for all of your conversation? A phone will never decode you the way another human being can. A phone will never look into your eyes a thousand different ways, and help you begin to understand every look, every flick of movement, every subtle eyebrow raise and lip twitch. A phone will never pay for your coffee or let you pay for theirs. A phone will never embrace you, introduce you to friends and family members, give you a firm handshake or a kiss on the cheek. A phone will never gently drop a present into your hands, surprise you with an act of kindness, jump on your back, share food with you, cry on your shoulder. A phone will never let you decode it; it wants to stay complicated — that’s how it draws you in. Unlike a person, who desires to be known, decoded, understood in the deepest, darkest crevices of their being.

But hey, maybe I’m being too judgmental. Maybe you two are at a point in your relationship where you’re both okay not knowing any more about each other and actually prefer to hide behind phones to avoid eye contact and relational intimacy and secret-telling and staring contests and watching smile lines appear and sharing looks and talking about things that can only be said away from the grips of social media and technology, and all the beautiful things that come along with getting to know another human being.

If that’s the case — if you two really are okay with letting phones be a barrier between you — then by all means, no need for me to keep writing. I guess you don’t mind all the things you’re missing while you’re sitting there, scrolling and texting and double-tapping pictures of other people’s lives happening right before your eyes.

I have made the challenge for myself not to use social media or my phone when I am in the presence of other people unless it is an emergency. It is a privilege and a joy and a blessing to be surrounded by the people who are in my life, and I am completely disrespecting them when I tell them through my actions that they are less important than the device in my hand. No longer.

I want to know you. You! Yes, you. I want to know what makes you sparkle, what makes you angry; I want to know the things that make you cry hardest, and your favorite passages in your favorite books. I want to know why your fingers move the way they do, and what all of your eye movements mean. I want to know what your half smile is trying to secretly convey to me, and I want to know where you want to go in this life. I want to know what you want to name your kids, and what you do in your spare time. I want to know your favorite kind of cookie, and what your go-to film is. I want to know what and whom you love, and how you got your scars.

I will never know these things if I am always on my phone. You are more important than my phone, and I want you to know that.

So, dear girl who stared at her phone and never looked her boyfriend in the eyes,

I hope someday soon, you realize what a terrible habit we’ve all developed, and I hope you’ll join me in this challenge to respect human beings a little more. Your phone can wait. Relationships and friendships and acquaintanceships are budding everywhere you look and are ready, ready, ready to be ignited. Let’s get out of the world of our phones and jump into some of that real life stuff that we’ve all seem to forgotten about.

–claire

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