5 Things We Need More Of In Society Today


It is no secret that American culture has been warped by the rapid advances in technology. Most people, at minimum, own a cell phone or a smart phone. Many of us have tablets, laptops, and a few, here and there, may have their very own Google glasses. I’m not shaming the advancement of technology or the advancements in other fields that have been made possible by the progression of technology; however, why have our common courtesies been thrown out of the window because of it?

Many of my friends call me old-fashioned. I am a 21-year-old senior at a college in the Northeast. I, too, own a laptop, tablet, and smart phone. I benefit from a society in which individuals can use these items to make everyday life easier and a bit more entertaining in some aspects. I value the privilege that I have of being able to own and use these products whenever I want to; but, I also value common human characteristics too. Here’s what we need now…and I mean right now.

1. Eye Contact. I’m demanding the return of eye contact. I was always taught to give someone eye contact when engaging in a conversation with them. Fine, I’ll admit, there are times where we all feel we can multi-task. This is okay; however, if I am trying to conduct a level-headed, intelligent conversation with someone I respect, I expect them to give me the courtesy of making consistent eye-contact with me. You know, it just shows that they are somewhat engaged in what I have to say. Is that too much to ask?

2. It’s dinner. I think you’ll live without your phone for the 20-30 minutes it takes for you to properly scarf your meal. It might also make the person(s) sitting at the table with you, more comfortable while eating their meals. Having your phone out while eating is fine if you’re by yourself, but if you’re dining with other friends/guests, having your phone out is the ultimate disrespect. It shows that you’d rather be on your phone surfing social media, than be eating at the same table with your peers. Not a good look. Trust me. I’m guilty of it. You’re guilty of it. So let’s all stop. Now.

3. Actual human conversation. I can’t tell you how many times I call my friends and they hang up on the second ring, only to text me back two seconds later, saying “what’s up?” I literally had one friend do this to me, and her excuse was “I just didn’t feel like talking.” I mean what is that?! It seems to me that it takes more effort, concentration and frustration to type a conversation out on the phone, than to just vocally communicate. I am sympathetic to those times where we are truly busy (i.e., in a class, meeting, exercising, etc.) but hanging up and texting me back just because you don’t feel like vocalizing a conversation is where I draw the line.

4. Actual engagement in conversation. We are all masters of pretending to listen to someone’s conversation…especially if they are going on a long, drawn out rant about something. I’m guilty of this, and others are guilty of this when it comes to listening to my, as some deem them “Forrest fires.” This is actually not okay, and it has no justification. You cannot sit and nod your head periodically throughout my conversation with you, pretending you’re absorbing everything I’m saying, and then start talking to me about ‘what Danny did on his spring break’ or ‘what Anna looked like after her wisdom teeth surgery.’ I can guarantee I’ll walk out of the room before you even have the opportunity to finish your thought.

5. An end to the era of “like” and “um”. Ladies, gentlemen, and those who choose to not qualify under these categories: It is time to let go of the sacred “like” and “um”. I encounter too many conversations that are plagued by these abundant filler words. It’s time for us to show confidence while talking with others. It is okay to take a moment to gather your thoughts. It is okay to not speak at a million miles per hour, avoiding stumbling over your words. The world will not end if you take a second to breathe and think about what you want to say to somebody. You probably don’t hear too many people in Corporate America abusing the “um” or “like” privilege. Why? Because it comes off as unprofessional and downright annoying. It’s not that difficult of a habit to break if you give a little thought, so let’s leave these subconscious phenomena in 2014. They’ve clearly overstayed their welcome.

These points may seem old-fashioned to some; however, I notice a big difference when someone is truly engaged in conversation with me. I can tell when someone is absorbing and understanding what I have to say to them, and vice versa. A little bit of attention goes a long way in social context. So, fear not, I promise your precious phones and computers will still be there when you get done eating, or when you finish in the bathroom, or when you finish listening to one of your friends vent to you. Because, at the end of the day, what’s more important to you…your friends/family, or a phone that’s going to need an upgrade next year?