The devil of miscommunication

Published: May 18, 2012
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A close friend recently reminded me that the phone is there for my convenience and not the caller’s convenience.

You’re talking to your best friend and despite the fact that he’s taking out the time to be with you, he’s constantly alert when that familiar red light blinks on his smartphone. You get annoyed and refuse to go on and an altercation ensues. The time you expected to spend catching up and having fun invariably becomes about how he’s always reaching for his phone.

Sounds familiar?

It really has become the story of our lives.

We have stopped living in the moment and are constantly glued to the mini-screens on our phones. After losing out on three very close relationships, I have come to the conclusion that smartphones made social interaction worse with their instant messenger systems and created an ugly addiction for the need to constantly stay connected with the world. With no tangible way to depict our emotions, instant messages get severely misinterpreted resulting in the most awful and hurtful play of words.

Hence, I have decided to get off the darn thing.

One of my best friends and I got phone packages so we could stay connected despite being in different cities. Sure, we had fun swapping pictures on what we wore and ate and where we were etc. But on occasions when we asked each other something serious or important and the other person didn’t respond in a timely manner, it became an issue of massive proportions.

Despite our constant strife for space, these phones and chats make our behaviour and lives naturally intrusive. They also kill whatever little patience we may have had with the other person. The desire to be ‘right here, right now’ engulfs the fragile dynamics of human relationships. It’s ironic, really, considering that by possessing smartphones we aspire to be everywhere all at once!

A close friend, therefore, recently reminded me that the phone is there for my convenience and not the caller’s convenience. I now put my phone on silent mode whenever I meet a friend. It’s my way of quietly saying that there’s nowhere I’d rather be right now than with you. And, guess what, my friends have noticed. I’m also hoping that this small but fundamental gesture sets me on the route to better relationships –– without Steven Covey’s help!

Read more by Hani here, or follow her on Twitter @taha_hani

Hani Taha

Hani Taha

Hani Taha is a journalist by profession who fervently reports on popular culture, depicting a softer image of her country. She tweets @taha_hani.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ayesha Pervez

    If I dont want to take a certain persons call, I dont. A cell phone is supposed to make my life easier, not be a noose around my friggin neck! :DRecommend

  • AIN

    Agreed!!
    Intensive messaging make you addict of some1 and yes chat through sms some time spoil the scenario & mis-portray the mood, situation & worth of words.Recommend

  • PakiKaka

    Don’t exaggerate… I have a smartphone, i’ve never lost any friends because of it? God knows which country do you live in.Recommend

  • Iceman

    Its absolutely true that you loose the essence and importance of that person if you are constantly in touch with every second of your life being shared over messaging. at times we need space and especially when out with friends one should not be texting and checking phone as its a form of disrespect to the other that you dont care who is sitting actually in front of you and instead the message reply is much more important..so a big thumbs up on making the phone silent while with a friend (Y)Recommend

  • Raja Nowsherwan

    Excess of every thing is bad, I agree. I have started getting irritated with the over loaded inbox and all the time i carry more then 100 unread messages and most of which are not worth reading…Recommend

  • Zubair Ali

    And I thought I was the only one on the planet with these “Strange views”… :)!
    The reasons you’ve mentioned are exactly why I decided to delete my (very well used) Facebook account and remove MSN from my phone. Now, if someone wants to contact me they call me or pop around just like the good old days!
    Honestly, It’s a wonderful thing to be un-connected to the masses and in touch with only those that you rally WANT to stay in touch with (and vice versa).
    And there’s me thinking, I was the only dinosaur…. ;)Recommend

  • Enginior Beckbencher

    So true! I think the worst waste of time when it comes to getting spoiled though m also addicted to it :)Recommend

  • Maria

    nice piece of writing indeed.
    I specially like this part

    The desire to be ‘right here, right now’ engulfs the fragile dynamics of human relationships. It’s ironic, really, considering that by possessing smartphones we aspire to be everywhere all at once!Recommend

  • Farrukh Kazimi

    Haha. So similar to my situation.Recommend

  • Big Rizvi

    Welcome to the 21st century everyone.Recommend

  • http://glenns-busy-corner.blogspot.com/ Glenn Ryall

    I get so frustrated when someone constantly uses their phone whilst I am talking to them. Happy to read this article. good job. Recommend

  • Saad

    @pakikaka:

    Author is not talking about Smart phones.. Mind It :PRecommend

  • Vikram

    We have stopped living in the moment and are constantly glued to the mini-screens on our phones. ……..After losing out on three very close relationships, I have come to the conclusion that smartphones made social interaction worse with their instant messenger systems and created an ugly addiction for the need to constantly stay connected with the world. With no tangible way to depict our emotions, instant messages get severely misinterpreted resulting in the most awful and hurtful play of words.”

    You control how to use phones, don’t let phones control you. I hope you are not blaming “loosing 3 close relationships” on the phones. You choose how to use a phone. You can choose it to make social interaction good or worse depending what you communicate and how you communicate. Emotions are reflected by what you say and how you say it. Recommend

  • Vikram

    Author says “I’m also hoping that this small but fundamental gesture sets me on the route to better relationships”…….They also kill whatever little patience we may have had with the other person ….. But on occasions when we asked each other something serious or important and the other person didn’t respond in a timely manner, it became an issue of massive proportions.

    Phones play a very little part in relationships, just helping you communicate. Don’t blame phones for your patience problem. If your friend does not respond in a timely manner, it is you that decides if it is minor problem or issue of massive proportions.. Recommend