Have you ever been at a social gathering and everyone keeps checking their phones?
It feels as though people are so concerned with being disconnected from their “digital social world” they aren’t connecting fully with the present social moment.
I must confess in the past I have been guilty of this.
It’s something I am actively aware of and challenge myself regularly on as I realise the importance of being in the moment.
It was highlighted for me when I arrived home the other night.
I walked into a situation where I literally fell over laughing. My housemate and his partner were both sitting at the table, on their phones eating dinner.
Then my housemate’s partner picked up the salt, shook it on her food and passed it across the table.
It was beautiful.
50 years ago, this would have been one of those “awwwww” moments.
They were attuned to each other and meeting needs before they were voiced.
But this is 2019, I had to ask the question.
“Did you just message Marina with a please pass the salt when you have finished?”.
They looked up a bit confused and then laughed. My housemates partner smiled and said, “no I just realised that the meal needed salt and Dan would be looking for it”.
So “awwwwwwww” was in order.
Interestingly the first time I became actively aware of this was at a lot larger social event.
I was at a bbq a few years ago. We were sitting around a table and most people were glued to their phones. There were photos being taken (to gratify the digital social world), posts pinging telling everyone who they were with, it was all about engaging the digital social network, the conversation and interactions were suffering.
I quietly walked into the kitchen and grabbed a spare bowl. I voiced a challenge. All phones go in the bowl. The first person who removed their phone from the bowl was responsible for the complete clean-up of the BBQ.
Irony, my mate, who was hosting the bbq, was the first to give in to his addiction. So much for you cook you don’t clean.
Have you ever experienced a social situation where the need to engage the digital social network seems to trump the amazing interactions you could be having with the people you are with?
Studies are regularly showing the world of digital social networks are about gratification, about feeling recognised. Its a cheap dopamine hit. It doesn’t provide the deeper interactions that being in someone’s presence can.
People are becoming more and more focused in being recognised as being in the moment rather than being in the moment.
The challenge is how do you pull yourself and those around you back into the moment.
Lets not end up being in a situation where #passthesalt is a reality.
So here is a few little tricks I have found work.
Firstly, have a spot in your home where people can place their phones. Provide charging ports so people can plug in and let their phones re-energise while you are both doing the same. As an example, my sister and brother in law have exactly this, and its in a cupboard.
When you go to a friend’s place find a spot. Put your phone your keys etc down, that way you know where they are, and you are mentally stating I am in the moment.
Finally, if you are organising an event (ironically these days through digital social media) add #passthesalt.
Tell people we want you in the moment, not telling everyone else (in your digital social network) you are in the moment.
At Wanderhome, this is our goal. The digital networks become secondary to the physical social interactions we provide. Studies show this provide greater satisfaction and happiness.
By Matt Pearce
I had an amazing experience today.
A friend of mine, Darren, has just bought an old school book exchange in the bayside suburb of Wynnum.
This amazing little suburb has a great little high street. A younger generation are moving in and it's thriving.
I must admit I was surprised with my friend’s choice. In this modern age where everything is digital, and bookstores are suffering because of Kindle et al. I thought wow, what a risk.
My friend has taken the store over from an owner who had passionately run it for 30 years. It was evident with the breadth and depth of the books on hand, he treasured the written word.
Having some time free, I offered to jump in and give a hand in sorting the store out.
My job was to find the duplicates. I was scanning every single book in every shelf.
For most people this would be a tedious task, for me it was Nirvana.
I have been book worm from an early age and my tastes are wide and varied.
Wandering the aisles, looking at every book, it was like travelling back in time, so many books, so many memories.
When there were multiple copies, I chose the best one and placed the duplicate in a box for storage. I had to look at the spine, the wear of the pages and find if it had been over dog-eared (I am shocking for that).
Whilst I was there, I realised something as I was watching the customers coming through. They were young, old, mum’s with kids, and couples. They were a true cross-section of life, they were the community.
My friend was brilliant. He introduced himself, explained what he was doing to update the store and his passion for the his newly acquired business.
Everyone was interested and were keen to support him. The community was engaged.
As I searched for the dog ears it got me thinking.
Wandering through the aisles and aisles and aisles of books this was like an outpost of the pre-digital world.
Ironically, the “old” world has some things right, especially on how it supports the development of community.
Community is about finding common interests and allowing people to physically interact with it and each other in pursuit of this.
As people entered the shop, chatted and searched for a great read, they were participating in a community and a passion.
It made me think of the community we built with Wanderhome.
It is why co-living is fantastic. It gives a physical place for communities to grow.
It’s about recognising in the new, digital age we shouldn’t forget how through the physical world happiness can be found.
We shouldn’t forget the importance of physical interactions, whether alone with a book or over a table having a meal with friends.
It’s amazing on how a store filled with dog ears, dust and obvious love it reminded me the importance of the tried and trusted ways to find contentment.
So much has changed but some things never will.
BTW – The book exchange is Gigglefit Grammar. Google it, drop in and support Darren’s passion as he grows it.