Recently I spent a lost weekend in and out of cabs and galleries and museums and parties and after-parties and hotel bars and secret back-door bars and receptions and long conversations with old friends and instant conversations with new ones and somewhere in between the tuxedos and the heels and the jokes and the couture I noticed something very specific: no one had their phone out.
We were mostly young, beautiful and tech-savvy, so we didn’t rest our thumbs out of apathy or ignorance: no luddites or neophytes here… Instead, keeping your phone in your pants was a mark of social sophistication.
It was chic to be discreet.
There were still photos, posts and messages from the weekend. Everything was still documented. The difference was that after a shot was taken and posted, the phones were put away. No thumbing aimlessly. No swipes or scrolls; that could wait for the ride home.
Something marvelous happens when you treat your phone as punctuation, rather than a metronome. Hugs burst forth from across the bar instead of smirks from friends to whom before you might have merely shown a funny gif. Laughs and forgotten screenplays emerge as intricate theories or urgent product visions. Musical re-mappings and rhyming games mix with foreign languages, fun, trust, hope and debate. In other words—conversation. Crass, elegant, classy, funny, dirty, dire yet brilliant conversation.
I’m the last person to say don’t use your phone. By all means take pictures of your kids, tweet a perfect shot of the perfect moment, entertain yourself on the bus or at the DMV with timely bursts of real-time pertinence. Bathe in the firmament of data and personalities all ringing the celestial chorus. Do it often. Do it everyday, multiple times a day. Get on Twitter and stay there.
But at a party? The next time you see me at a party with my phone out, do me a favor and whisper in my ear as you walk by, “put it away, junior.”