Dodging Relationships by Phone
A few months ago, before I found better ways to spend my after-hours – exercising, reading, living – I used to stay in office till late. Some evenings, I would go past 10 pm! Because I am a radio producer, my office is soundproof and has a terrific sound output, so it’s always quite an experience listening to music or watching a movie at cinema-like volume. And because I live on Entebbe road – the road that leads to Uganda’s only international airport, Entebbe International Airport – the traffic is always heavy. It was one way of avoiding it. Plus, staying in office seemed like a cheaper and safer option as opposed to going to the bar like most people prefer to.
My workmate James, a married guy, ALWAYS sat in his car in the parking lot from 7 pm till… I wasn’t quite sure what time he left, because there was a time I left office at 11 pm and I saw him, his face illuminated by the screen light from his Samsung Note 3.
I really felt sad for him. I also couldn’t help but wonder: Why? Why would he rather sit in his car and not dash off to be with his beautiful wife? (I assumed she was, as I had never met her.) Wasn’t he friends with his wife? Because if he were, they would have tons to talk about in person. Like how it was back in the nineties, and how it’s supposed to be.
Maybe I am naive; maybe a hopeless romantic. Maybe I am a naive hopeless romantic. I imagine my guy rushing to wrap things up in office to come back home to me. I’ll listen when he tells me about his day; not out of politeness, but because I am actually interested. Clearly, I’m not alone here; one of the girls remarked at how she hoped there would be days that she would have to drag him to work because he would rather stay home with her watching crappy chick flicks, and she of course would pretend to get annoyed and accuse him of intruding on her independence. People put a lot of thought into these things. It’s those chick flicks to blame!
Why would a guy rather stay in his car for hours on end than head back home? “One does not simply socialize when one owns a Note 3,” noted one of the guys. “Maybe he’s Whatsapping her from his car?” Is technology to blame? People go on dates and all they do is swipe at their phones. One of my friends told me of a story where during his date with a girl, he only looked at her – really looked at her – after he realized they had commented on the same Facebook thread! That’s when he knew it wasn’t going to work. Now we have to work twice as hard to grab and maintain each other’s attention and interest because we’re competing with the flashy gadgets and the virtual friends. We’ve reached a point where people without a social media presence are considered an endangered species! They are hot, mysterious and very irresistible! They won’t check in to a place using Yelp or Swarm because privacy is sacred to them. They don’t care if an establishment has WiFi or not, while the majority of us are getting fined by our friends during dinner parties for checking our phones.
Recently, during one of our road trips, a friend handed me their phone so I could activate Google Maps so we wouldn’t get lost. I hate maps; all of them! This is one example in which people avoid relating to people. Why would I want to look at a phone when I could be busy checking out where we are going? I believe it’s those moments where we get lost and stop to ask for directions that make memories. It’s time we put our gadgets aside and lived a little…