Nothing Is More Important Than Here

People my age in Paraguay and people my age in the States have a number of things in common, but one that sticks out is that their cell phones are lifelines. We just can’t seem to put them down, no matter the occasion. And so, I find myself having the same reaction here that I used to have in the States when my friends whipped out their phones in the middle of a conversation.

Yeah, I’ve already head this: Internet, social media, and cell phones allow you to expand your reach far beyond your physical location and the number of people you can talk to personally in a day. These connecting tools, message-sharing tools sell things, allow you to plan with your friends, and help you keep in touch with friends and family who are far away. They are powerful.

But, nothing you post on Facebook about our friendship will ever be as powerful as that conversation we had yesterday. Nothing is more important than here, the space you are occupying at the moment, and the people who are here with you. When you bury your nose in your phone during our conversation you only send me one message: Whatever is on that little screen is more important than whatever we have between us.

When you go to an event and spend your whole time instagraming, tweeting, and facebooking, you will miss the event. Do you have to text every one of your friends to see when they’re arriving? Yes, social media and texting is important. But living life—doing real things and connecting to people in person—comes first.

Sure, I am curmudgeonly when it comes to cell phones and social media. But, it’s not because I don’t use them or think they aren’t useful; I find them essential. But don’t make me fight What’sApp when I’m talking to you. Don’t make me give up telling my story because you are clearly more interested in scrolling through newsfeeds than listening. Give me the time of day for a conversation, a meal, or an afternoon. You just might have fun and, maybe, you’ll even have something that’s genuinely interesting to say on Facebook afterwards.