Phony Friends, Phony People

Do you have phony friends?  I mean, do you have friends that when you spend time with them, they are spending time on their phones?  Obviously, as always, this excludes extenuating circumstances.  Do you remember the times you would get together with your bud and you would actually be looking at each other while you spoke and not the side of their head? Or when you went out to lunch they weren’t interrupted by a call or a text? Or can you remember a time hanging out without ever hearing the words, “I just have to finish this email” or “I just have to take this call?”  We are rapidly losing intimacy in our communication and relationships and it makes me sad.  I am not exempt from this technological virus, however, because I realized how rude and unavailable I was actually being when with loved ones, I made a decision to stop doing that and to put my phone down while I am with other people.  Seriously, it makes me want to cry, not just on a personal level, but on a much broader scope of humanity and the way we communicate, or don’t communicate.  These are people I love, or are getting to know and our time is being diluted by outside distractions that are getting inside our relationships.

As a photographer, it is difficult for me to leave the house without my phone as I am addicted to taking photographs of beautiful scenery or what seems beautiful to me.  So when I do take it on walks, even when I am with myself, I have to be really disciplined not to check my phone for emails, texts, etc.  Lately, because I don’t trust myself yet, all the time, I am leaving my phone home and I have to say, I really don’t miss it.  Except for the occasional  times when I see something I’d love to photograph. I have no regrets and feel much more present for the person or people I am with, even though they are still on their phone during our time together.

Many years ago, I was hiking up a trail in the gorge in Oregon with my dog Shea (now in doggie heaven), we used to love to hike together and there was a man on his cell phone talking loudly, obviously about work and I felt unsettled about it. I was there to connect to nature, hear the birds, exercise and smell the pines, not hear his loud voice echoing through the woods. Little did I know that this sort of thing was going to become an epidemic in our culture.

This is truly a dilemma to me because I don’t know what to do about it. What would my friends do if I asked, “Would you mind spending less time on your phone when you are with me?” Would they never want to spend time with me again? Would they think I have a lot of nerve to ask them to be present when we are together?  Yikes!  I’m in a conundrum.  However, I am hoping that if I do request that of a friend, that they realize that I am choosing to show up for them, as present as possible and if that were to happen mutually our friendship, relationship would be that much richer and we would really be “there” for each other.

“Southern Ladies” from the Beauty and Wisdom series. Here are two women, fully engaged, no phones, communicating beyond the sound of the dryers.


Again, so you don’t think I am being completely self-righteous about this, I have been on the other side too… and even when friends are talking to me on the phone I am making more of an effort to walk away from my computer and really show up there too.  My husband will attest for how much I used to be on my phone and not present for him and our time together. And to me the subtext is “I don’t care enough about you being here to stop being on my phone and be fully present” and that’s just not ok for me, not since I have had a spoonful of my own medicine.  And as I’ve mentioned, this phony-ness is truly common practice… really common, and I am completely outnumbered by the people who choose to constantly be on their phone than those who choose not to be.

Again, of course, I understand if one is waiting for something important, and says, “Excuse me for just this minute” but to continually be in conversation with someone else, while they are in your presence…. that kind of feels disrespectful.  And you may think, “what a stickler she is.” And to that I say, perhaps you are right and that is why I am writing about it. I am curious to know if there are other people out there experiencing this and prefer it was a different way.  How are they handling it? I’m not interested in a bashing or a righteous judging party about these kinds of “phony people.” I’m really in pursuit of finding an equilibrium and solution that will bring me peace.  Any suggestions?

2011, Top of Angel’s Rest, Oregon, where I scattered some of my sweet Shea’s ashes.

Be Brave, Be Strong, Be You and shine that beautiful light of yours!






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