The Rise of the iPhone and the Fall of Society

by Alexander Heyne · 6 comments

New iPhone 4sThe other day I was in an expensive restaurant eating dinner with a couple friends. We got to talking, settling in, removing our coats, and getting drinks from the waiter.

As soon as things calmed down, and I had time to survey my environment (because you know I love creeping on people), so I observed the people around me.

It was eerily quiet — not a lot of conversation was going on between the couples around me waiting for their dinner. In fact, I noticed one over-arching trend: people typing away on their iPhones. Either one person, or both.

Now, it wasn’t so much the fact that everyone had iPhones that bothered me. Nor was it that they had their phones out at the dinner table (even though that kills me inside) — it was the pensive mood it put me in regarding how our life changes (if at all) by not socializing over a meal.

That simple idea – instead of talking over dinner, killing time by messing around on the phone – really got to me.

And I wondered, am I witnessing the de-evolution of society?

iPhone, iPod, iSuck


What happened to the good old days when a man’s word meant something? What happened to the times when you could sit down and look a person in the face, see their body language, joke, flirt, tease and talk into the wee hours of the morning?

What happened to the era of civilization where having a conversation was considered a valuable skill?  Or when knowing how to use a fork and knife properly were — expected — not something relegated to well-raised white kids or Europeans.

What happened to the very act of breaking bread? One of the oldest traditions of mankind is breaking bread and just sharing your story.

I can only hope that the Irony of technological communication [read: becoming more and more isolated despite being more connected than ever] will not become the norm in the future.

Why?

Because beyond all the gadgets and toys, people want to connect with people.  The iPhone or any other toy may be a good way to do that, or it may be your achilles heel.

Connecting with a person does not mean talking to them easier. It means connecting with them.

Businessmen may be thinking about products and demand and technology and marketing and things going viral… and through the haze forget about people.

So if there’s any skill more valuable than using, and adapting to, technology, it’s the skill we’re going to see take a weird turn in the future – people skills.

And that brings me back to our dinner in an expensive restaurant.

I see more than six couples on their phones, while waiting for their food.  Less than a couple sentences are spoken, most are small chat, few linger more than a couple sentences.

And I think to myself: it’s very telling of a couple’s future whether or not they can talk into the night – beyond the first date. In fact, it’s very telling of a relationship with any other human being whether or not you can do that.

The oldest skill man has – interacting with fellow man – is constantly being overshadowed by things we think are more valuable.

We always try to expedite the speed, or quality, or number of people we can interact with.  But there is no such thing at something for nothing. Something has to go.

Or does it?

Either way, next time you’re sitting in the doctor’s office and decide to whip out your iPhone, instead of sitting in solitude in relaxing, know that it says something about your character.

Next time you’re in a restaurant and are waiting for food and decide to play Angry Birds instead of talk with those around you, understand that you are missing out on a real sweet part of life.

Maybe we’re witnessing the de-evolution of society. Or maybe I’m just wrong.

 

 

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Thea Easterby | Write Change Grow October 31, 2011 at 4:05 am

Hi Alexander
I’m new to your blog, just popped over from your guest post on Tiny Buddha.

I could not agree with you more on this topic. I think being on the phone in a restaurant is so rude. You go to dinner with people, to have dinner with them and talk to them, not stuff around on your phone the whole time. What is the point of going to dinner in the first place? Admittedly, it’s been a while since my last date but I would be mortified if a date started playing a game on his phone over dinner or called one of his friends for a chat. Sometimes with all of this connection I wonder if we are less ‘connected’ than ever.
I am off to check out the rest of your blog, though I have to admit alas I am not quite your target demographic. It’s been a while since I was 20 something. Regardless I am sure your blog will have a lot for me to read, learn and take action on.
Cheers
Thea

Reply

afheyne October 31, 2011 at 10:05 am

Thea, thanks for stopping by!

The phone is one of those things that bothers me for some reason. I feel like you go out to dinner to enjoy company and have quality discussions, build relationships, and hopefully establish your own character.

Maybe I’m just weird in that regard! But I’m only 24 and still something dies inside of me when a friend pulls out their phone at the table. I’m even known to jokingly tease people on dates, or people i don’t know well, if I see them doing it.

No worries about not being my target demographic :). I write a lot on passion, purpose, standing out , and seizing life by the balls — challenges that 20 somethings deal with, but most of us as humans need to work on. Thanks so much for stopping by,

Alexander

Reply

Rob November 8, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Yup. You’re just wrong.

Reply

afheyne November 8, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Haha, that’s quite possible !

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drew October 20, 2013 at 11:28 pm

I have to write an essay for my college English class on something that needs to have qualities of a classic utopian or dystopian view. The iPhone seems to have those qualities. Seems like a saving grace for time, thought, and social connections but is it? I love what you wrote here. I find it mind blowing that sitting on your phone at dinner (often times both people at the table) is considered blatantly rude. And it seems to me that the iphone does not support a human’s independent thinking in anyway. There is no problem solving anymore. The answer is “pull out your iPhone”

extremely scary..

grateful that there are others I agree with!

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Lord Vader January 26, 2016 at 2:21 pm

So many reach for their cell phones because so many conversations immediately segue into money troubles or, things which are out of reach or, situations which are out of our control. It’s less draining to just reach for something which u can easily shut off

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