The point of having friends isn’t so that other people don’t think you’re a loser. I know that may sound a little extreme, but if we’re honest, having a Facebook account can come with a certain amount of pressure to project an image of popularity. We can get so obsessed with showing our social media selves having a good time that we don’t live in the moment and actually have a good time as it’s happening.
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Living in the moment means really experiencing whatever you’re doing. At the risk of sounding too crunchy, it means tuning in, taking in what’s around you and staying engaged. Ask yourself this: Are you where your feet are? Or are you so busy taking pictures, posting them on social media sites and monitoring the likes and comments that you’re not really interacting with the people around you?
Although smartphones enable us to stay in touch in seemingly endless ways, they can also undermine our friendships. It’s not enough to simply “have friends” — we have to actively engage with each other. It’s not uncommon to be surrounded by people but still feel alone. That’s what happens when we’re not really connecting.
Connecting means confiding in our friends when things aren’t so great. It means asking real questions about what’s going on in their lives, what they’re excited about, struggling with or considering. It means making ourselves vulnerable, and having conversations about how we really feel, not regurgitating answers we think we’re “supposed” to say. And of course, this all starts with making the commitment to cool it with phone fetish.
Sure, it’s nice to be able to look back on fun nights and important events. But when your experiences revolve around taking pictures of them, it’s a sign you’re not present in what’s actually happening (and I’d argue not really enjoying yourself.) So take a few photos when you first meet up with your friends, but then put your phone away. It’s a mistake to end up with a bunch of images of times that could have been a lot more fun had you actually been focused on the experience at hand.
Amber Madison is a Manhattan-based relationship expert and therapist. She is the author of ‘Are All Guys Assholes?’ for which she traveled the country, spoke to over 1,000 men and discovered that the answer to this question is no. You can follow her on Twitter@ambermadi.