Social Media Crashing: When It’s Time To Leave Your Phone Alone

Today the Wall Street Journal took a look into how we use social media in social situations — or in other words, social media manners. Tweeting at the dinner table, Instagramming while standing in the corner at a cocktail party, updating a Facebook status at a concert: we've all done it. But when does social media prevent us from being, well, social?

This conundrum in particular impacts bloggers on almost a weekly basis. Often times we are invited to go to events to network and try out new products, and it's most likely the brand who sent the invite is expecting a tweet while you are there. Heck, there might even be a designated hashtag emailed to you.

However, on the other side of things, if we constantly have our face to the screen, are we missing out on the human social interactions? When does our involvement in our smart phones and social media persona affect our traditional, person-to-person connection?

On the other hand, some social media enthusiasts have gone to extremes to keep their private life public by documenting it through the internet. The WSJ cites the internet savvy couple Caroline Waxler, an independent digital marketing strategist, and Michael Levitt using a dedicated hashtag at their wedding. It's a nice way to organize all of the photos people posted about their special day, however does anyone want to stand at the altar to a crowd of phone cameras? Maybe they do.

If you are unsure of how to incorporate your social media with your social life, here are a few tips to make sure you aren't offending anyone:

1. Keep the phone off the dinner table. Want to take a photo of your insane creme brûlée? Fine. But snap it and put that phone right back in your purse. You can upload and tweet it after dinner.

2. Don't tweet and talk. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to have a conversation with someone and they aren't paying attention. Save your tweeting for when you have an idle moment, like when you're waiting in the bathroom line.

3. Don't use social media as a cop out at events. Sure, you might not know anyone in the room, but hiding behind your smartphone's screen isn't going to benefit you, and you might end up offending whoever is throwing the gathering. Use the uncomfortable situation as an opportunity to meet new friends and network.

And now it's time for your thoughts, take our poll here:

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15 Responses

  1. Ally

    I have to say, all of those are annoying but I’m guilty of every single one. I don’t do it often, but as a new blogger I feel that I need to be updating and checking the web as often as possible in order to build connections. I’ll be toning it down a bit.

    • Monica

      Same! Especially the tweet and talk. I just like to multitask but I can’t stand when people do that to me 🙂 which is probably a cue that I shouldn’t be doing that to others.

      • Juliette Gold

        Same here! I obsessively check my comments, tweets, e-mails, instagram & textx to make sure I don’t miss anything!

        Does anyone know how to tone it down? Or is it just the “new blogger excitement?”

  2. Miss ED

    I think the fuel behind this epidemic of social media is the constant pressure to be relevant and visible as bloggers. I personally try my best to make note of things I’d like to post at a later time, but it’s increasingly difficult to resist the temptation to broadcast one’s latest “fabulous” escapade. Of the excellent points made by this article, I can attest to the effectiveness of no. 3 – I’ve been guilty of hiding behind a phone to “sooth” an unfamiliar social situation, but once I attended an event with an open mind (IFB Con, actually!) I realized how much better it feels to interact with people rather than avoiding the potential awkwardness of first introductions. And if awkward is the worst that can happen, then it can only get better from there!

  3. zoobia

    The one that bothers me most is the phone on the table. Unfortunately, I have become that person! I get antsy when I can’t check my phone, even though I know how rude and intrusive it can be. I’m working on eliminating this habit!

    One thing that helps is having a designated “tweet break” during meetings with friends. It sounds silly, but taking 2 minutes during coffee or dinner to snap photos and check social media accounts helps break the anxiety of not having our phones in hand.

  4. Izzy

    Oh I cannot stress how true this is. I’m guilty of a few of these things because I underestimate how long it actually takes to Instagram something, edit it, tag it etc and replying to tweets on the phone, and other things. In theory it seems like we can multi-task by being a sociable person as well as update everyone on what we’re up to, but the reality is it’s really noticeable when someone’s a little too pre-occupied with social media in public. It’s quite sad how we find it so hard to pull away from our phones sometimes!

  5. Lauren

    I agree completely with Miss ED above. I think a lot of the issue is trying to remain relevant and visible by posting a lot. Look at the bloggers who have a lot of followers — they are visible on almost every media outlet AND visible to the point of almost every single time I open one of those things, they are there! It makes you feel like you need to be sharing a minute by minute recap of your entire day with your followers. It’s a hard balance to maintain and figure out what to do with.

    It’s a vicious circle — when we are constantly checking to keep up with others and constantly posting to stay involved with the community we are really just adding fuel to the fire. But where does it cross the line and where is it just part of the role of a blogger?


  6. Sabina

    I often wonder if the siamese twin relation people have with their smartphones is a generational thing. I’m 33 and I notice that most people my age don’t obsessively check messages, emails, FB status and tweets the way people in their 20s do. We also don’t generally leave our phones on the table unless it’s a work function, because that does cross a line if you’re sitting with other people who are making an effort to be social.

    • Rita - FashionPas

      Oh I agree. It is definitely a trend. Most people in their late 20’s and over still had some years when the internet or mobile technology wasn’t so widespread so you had time to learn how to socialize with others face to face. Younger generations are growing up thinking that the best way to communicate is through your facebook account even if you’re sitting right next to the person you’re communicating with…

  7. TheStyleKaleidoscope

    Haha, the category names are funny, love it! I am regularly on a train and the schoolkids in the morning are very insistent on sitting together, but spend the journey looking at their own phones and only talking to say, “have you seen this on xyz’s page?”. The worst one for me is at dinner. I once went to dinner with 6 people, and one of them was constantly checking a sports score on their phone – they just should have said they weren’t coming out for the evening, the host was clearly peeved.

  8. Rita - FashionPas

    The problem is that often you see all the pics but were they really present? Often the answer would be “no”. As if people are now living through their blogs/instagram/twitter.

    I say, take a few pics but deal with it later. All of these are incredibly rude and I am not sure people realize that. If you’re out to socialize, do it. Be in that moment. Don’t go to the extreme of forgetting to document it if that’s what you wish (I often fall into this category) but please, please, if I’m talking to you, if we’re having lunch or dinner together, do look me in the eyes. Maybe in a few hundred years we will have evolved to not need that to feel we’re communicating, but right now we still do.

  9. Giles Lloyd

    This problem is only going to get worse with the introduction of Google glasses. Sometimes it’s just plain rudeness, but some studies have found Social Media to be more addictive than smoking. Perhaps some of these people need to put into a kind of “Social Media Rehab”. Check out my book, The Social Pandemic – The Influence and Effect of Social Media on Modern Life

  10. LeatherStuddedFairy

    This article speaks truth. :)) I shouldn’t even let some gadget or some… social networking site take over my life. Sure, I visit my blog, instagram, facebook, tumblr or twitter from time to time but not every single second of my life. A lot of people still ask me why I don’t have a blackberry or an iPhone as everyone else does (I just take instagram by borrowing my aunt’s iPad every once in a while). Not that I have anything against those but I just think that I also need a life outside the web, a productive one. Sometimes, we need a break from all the hype on the inter web. I mean, if I do want to share what is happening in my life, I can just bring a camera, take pictures, spend quality time with some real and important people and then once I get home, I can just upload them. I don’t need to tweet or update my status, text anyone or use the inter web everywhere I go.

    My sister told me one story about a group of friends who are in the same place but never say a word to each other because they’re actually talking through their blackberry’s. O_O

    However, my problem is being at home with my laptop. I have to admit, staying at home just because I want to keep on re-blogging the heck out of my dash in Tumblr, read online fanfiction or stories, read blogs, update blogs etc. is my guilty pleasure.

  11. Star

    There are always extremes, but I would hesitate to equate social media with non-productivity and being anti-social. Quite the contrary, it can connect people who otherwise may not meet. It can then lead to increased productivity as a result of those connections. It did for me and I am grateful for it.

    Concerning burying one’s face into a screen in social settings — I do find that rude. I like to put my phone away when out with people. One person I hadn’t seen for years stopped by and literally texted the entire visit, which I cut short.

    There was ONE exception where some friends and I just experienced something exciting and were anxious to post our photos. All of us at a restaurant table were on Instgram, Twitter and Facebook. However, it wasn’t one jerk. It was all of us, sharing and passing our phones around. Looking back, I think we could have waited to post and just enjoy each others company.