Out of the corner of my eye I could see her opening WhatsApp on her phone every three minutes or so, to see when he’d last been online or whether he’d read her messages yet. I could almost feel her sigh of relief and delight that he had “finally” replied within a 15 minute window. It’s a process that repeated itself for the entire afternoon – quite painful to watch yet fascinating nonetheless.
I know she isn’t the only one. We’re a society so hooked on instant gratification in this tech world – Amazon’s 1-click ordering, swiping for a soulmate – that we start to get panicky when a friend or someone we’re dating hasn’t replied to a message within a couple of hours. Did we say something wrong, is it because we didn’t put a kiss on the end of the message? How on earth did people cope before read receipts became a thing?
And it’s not just when it comes to dating. We’re constantly refreshing our Instagram feeds, starting sentences with: “did you see what she wrote on Facebook last night?” and “he found out because I added it to my Snapchat story”. We talk more on iMessage, Skype and WhatsApp than we ever do in person. Living in the moment seems to have ceased, we’re so hellbent on documenting it for the world to see before we can even absorb it in all its glory. We’re oversharers without really sharing anything. We’re more connected than ever before, but we’re not really connecting on any level beyond an Instagram like or a tweet.
At what level do we say enough is enough? When the people you’re eating lunch with aren’t even listening they’re too glued to her phone? When communicating via memes becomes the foundation of a friendship? For the most part of this weekend, my phone was disconnected from WiFi and 4G, just functioning to receive emergency calls. And you know what? I felt free, and the world continued to spin.