An Open Letter to Phone-Addicted Friends and Family

I know we’ve talked about this casually before.

“Everyone’s addicted to devices these days.”

“The average human being now has the attention span of a goldfish”

But it’s more than that.

On the other side of every conversation we have is another human being with an experience as rich and complex as yours. Today I want to try to share with you what it’s like to be me, on the other end of things.

When your phone is out and you are impulsively reaching for it every few moments, it changes the conversation.

It become an arms race for the most interesting, most stimulating topic. I feel this weight, my mind urgently searching for something to keep your attention, otherwise I see your eyes start to wander. I see your hand reach for your phone, in the middle of my sentence. Like a child, I rush. I speed up.

There’s this feeling, like your self worth is only what you can come up with to entertain those in your presence, because you know they’ll turn away from you if you don’t… it’s one of the worst feelings in the world Disappointed Face on Google Android 7.1. To watch someone important in your life consciously or subconsciously – literally and physically – turn away from your face as you are talking…. Disappointed Face on Google Android 7.1… for this to happen again and again… all day long… in every moment we spend time together Disappointed Face on Google Android 7.1  Disappointed Face on Google Android 7.1

I know this might seem like a naggy pet-peeve, but for me, it’s as important as being kind to someone, being a good friend, being there for your people.

The alternative is actually hurtful. It’s the same feeling of worthlessness you might get if you asked a good friend for help in a moment of serious need, and you could feel their turning away from you when they text back, “nah, I’m busy.” Abandoned, simply because there’s something more interesting.

Being turned away from, big or small, is hurtful. And being turned away from as a matter of habit, well…


–  –  –


Maybe the next time we spend time together, we can silence our phones. Turn them off. Leave them in the other room.

What a relief it would be, just to be me, to have the space and time to really share who I am, instead of constantly trying to win the arms race for your affection attention.


P.S. – This is not just a think piece. Most of this was lifted verbatim from real emails and conversations.

One thought on “An Open Letter to Phone-Addicted Friends and Family

  1. Agreed, it always feels rude when people decide something on the phone is more important than you. I recently turned off push notifications for all my email apps and it has definitely decreased the amount of distraction (and overall phone usage) those things bring.

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