21st Century Socialising


Photo by Irving Penn for American Vogue, January 1, 1950

Maybe I haven’t exactly accepted how different the world really is now because of the presence of social media and smartphones. Call me old-fashioned (an old-fashioned liberal ironically), but I still can’t really grasp the way people now socialise with one another in public settings. By people, I’m pertaining mostly to millennials, not really older people since they do it, well, in an old-fashioned way. From groups of friends to families, it seems like everybody is so disconnected with one another despite being physically close to each other in a group.

It really baffles me seeing groups of people physically together, only not necessarily “together” because they are all too preoccupied with their phones and the internet. It might not be too shocking anymore seeing groups of millennial friends like this, because let’s face it, it’s the new normal, even though it’s not exactly ideal. Honestly, I don’t exactly see the whole point of being with one another and hanging out when they’re just going to be preoccupied by their phones anyway. Isn’t the whole reason for hanging out supposed to be so that people can chat and catch up with one another? That’s why I’m honestly not so keen on going out for lunch or dinner with a bunch of people anymore, especially if they are millennials… One time, I was invited to have dinner by a group of people I’ve newly met, and of course I did go out of respect; but when I arrived there, everybody was just using their phones! Nobody talked whatsoever, and I, being the old-fashioned one who thinks knows that using your phone in social situations is rude, ended up becoming the awkward one silently staring into nothingness. I never hung out with that group ever again, because first, I didn’t really like them that much in the first place, and second, what’s the point of hanging out with them if we’re not even going to socialise. 

It still shocks and saddens me though, seeing families like this. First of all, I’m not being judgemental. I’m not passing judgement and giving out my own presuppositions like “oh they must be a broken family”, I’m just writing my observations. Shouldn’t family time supposed to be a time of chatting and bonding? Apparently not anymore. I was in a café one morning having breakfast, and this family of 5 came in, and I was honestly quite baffled observing them. The kids (well, teenagers) were only using their phones, they weren’t even talking to each other, and the father was also on his phone, talking to somebody about work. Yeah ok, maybe that second one with the father is pretty excusable, if it was really urgent, otherwise I’m sure it could wait for some other time. Again, not judging, I’m just wondering, shouldn’t family time not be like that? 

Another time in another café, I was observing a group of older women chatting with one another, and it was a marvel to behold. Not a phone in sight and everybody was in a present state of mind, how refreshing. Even watching older TV series like Friends or Sex and the City at this day and age made me more aware of how people socialise with one another these days. Can you imagine if Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and Ross were only using their phones and Instagramming their coffee every time they are in Central Perk? Or if Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda were only Instagramming and barely talking to one another when they eat out? Horrible…

Yes, I prefer the old days, but what can I do about it right? Might as well get used to it.

Photo courtesy of Phillips.


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