This scenario is probably very common to us: sitting down to lunch with friends, excited to talk about our day, gossip, or even boast about our favorite sports team winning the game last night. Conversations can be endless when we surround ourselves with friends. But the question stands: do we still listen? With our smart phones, it has become easy to divert our attention to the latest text or email, completely ignoring the world around us.
Sitting inside Hofstra University’s Au Bon Pain for just a few minutes, students busily hurry in and out, trying to grab a quick snack between classes or to meet up with friends to eat together. It’s always chaotic inside as people try not to step on each other’s toes while waiting for workers to yell out their names once their sandwiches are ready.
As friends sit at tables and begin to bite into their food, something becomes quite apparent; no one is talking. Sure, there is conversation at first, but soon enough, most are too engrossed in their laptops or smart phones that the conversations quickly die out. A group of friends together and no one is speaking. What’s the point of sitting together then?
The advancements in technology allow us to be more connected to anyone in the world than ever before, but these developments have come at a cost. It seems that technology may have killed our basic communication skills. This is due to the ease that technology has created to check the latest text, tweet, or picture posted on Instagram than to what the person next to you is saying.
Dominique Calabro, a junior at Hofstra University, sits with friends at a table for lunch and explains how she too is guilty when it comes to her cell phone use saying, “I don’t know—I think it’s just completely normal now to give half of your attention to a friend when they speak, but the other half goes to my other friends I’m texting”.
A friend sitting with Dominique, Alexandra Cardinal, quickly looks up from her phone laughing to chime in, “Dom, you don’t know how to multi-task like that. She actually can’t text and talk at the same time. I have to repeat myself all the time”.
It seems that it has become a tradition to only give half of our attention to someone since we’re always busy texting. Hanging out with friends doesn’t require conversation anymore when we have our phones to occupy ourselves with.
Most people in Au Bon Pain seem to go through the same motions, speaking and waiting for friends to respond after sending out their text message first. Will basic conversational skills keep declining as technology only continues to improve? Will we begin to notice the obvious strain it puts on our relationships before it’s too late?