“Everyone is interesting. If you’re ever bored in a conversation, the problem is with you, not the other person”.
Standing in my friend’s apartment a little over a month ago on a Friday night among new and no-new friends, I noticed something we are all too familiar with. To my right, basic b’s with outstretched arms filming multiple iterations of their highly anticipated ‘Snaps’ for their 15 seconds of social media fame. To my left, bros with their God’s given thumb speed talent swiping through Instagram feeds and other profiles. Although so many exchanges were taking place, for nearly ten seconds, none of them happened to be between any two others standing in that same room.
I immediately thought back to a quote from an interview I read in Tools of Titans between Tim Ferris and Matt Mullenweg where Mullenweg says, “Everyone is interesting. If you’re ever bored in a conversation, the problem is with you, not the other person”.
What a fascinating idea, everyone is interesting! But if that theory is true, why did everyone seem to be so preoccupied? What could that mean for the people standing in that room? Was something wrong with each of them? Are they not interesting? Doubting that to be the case, I thought differently. Who or what was so interesting on the other side of their phone that it was better than being present with the people around them? Now, I’m not pointing fingers because this is something I find myself guilty of too, and understand the reflex we’ve all developed to keep our phones in our hands like doctor prescribed heart monitors. But how often do you ruin the flow of a conversation or zone out of what your counterpart is saying because you can’t help yourself? Asshole.
As of a few months ago I have felt incredibly focused, determined and have been able to clearly define my road ahead. But before then that was not nearly the case, in fact it was the complete opposite. Looking for answers, I became obsessed with books and content on start-ups, technology, entrepreneurial interviews, life hacks, productivity, and just about anything interesting. Across many pieces that I consumed, a recurring theme stood out: the phone is the enemy. I thought exactly what you just did, and that in no way could my phone throw me off course. Better yet, who would be crazy enough to disconnect themselves from the world? Apparently, Ashton Kutcher, Lester Holt, Miranda Kerr, the Founders of Sakara Life, and the Chairman of Bain Consulting to name a few.
Feeling inspired and thinking back to that night in that apartment, I reached out to a friend and asked that he change my passwords across all social platforms for what would be my ‘detox’. Braving the road ahead, I decided to abandon the chivalrous methods of using snapchat to flirt with women (if you’re reading this, you know who you are 😉) and revealing my entire day to people who undoubtedly cared about that vacation I took to that island. Curious to reap the guaranteed benefits of ‘unplugging’ from the world, I went off the grid and set goals to accomplish in that time. What I replaced that time with and found after doing so have reinforced my views in possibly never turning back; here’s what I found, what happened and what I learned:
1. You will become noticeably more productive
While this may sound like nonsense, consider the amount of time you spend on social apps or how it breaks your concentration when performing tasks. Now, remove that scenario entirely and fill that spare time with other efforts. Burning through Facebook posts before you go to bed? Read a book. Looking to challenge yourself? Teach yourself a new skill. Finding yourself scrolling through Instagram in the morning? Download Headspace and replace that lost time with meditating. In the last 30 days that I have been without these social platforms, I have read two books, taught myself a coding language, and picked up meditating which only requires 10 minutes a day. The benefits are enormous; increased concentration, enhanced mindfulness and a calmer demeanor are just a few of them. If you just tune out from others and tune in to yourself, you will begin to notice something very interesting.
2. You abandon your crutch and become more present
This is important. If you were to remove all temptations and distractions, what reason would you have to pull out your phone at the dinner table when it’s just you and another friend or your family, or at the bar when you are purposely out to socialize. It’s comical how we wish to spend time in the company of others but can go 10 minutes in silence as you sit across from each other. Focus on engaging in deeper conversations, build stronger relationships, talk to and about the people in the room, not the ones outside of it. When you remove the crutch of resorting to your phone during times of awkwardness, feeling uncomfortable, or just from sheer reflex, you develop a stronger muscle in the art of conversation and begin to focus on the ones you’re with. I can guarantee you that is more meaningful than what you are probably looking at instead.
3. Shockingly, you start to hear from people more often
Within six days of not being on social media, people noticing that I was not watching snapchat or Instagram stories or even worse, not opening peoples snapchats, I began to hear from friends more frequently. Consider the scenario that nobody knows where you are, what you are doing or when you are doing it. What a preposterous thought, but even more outrageous, how will they remember to think of you if you aren’t consistently appearing in front of them? If you must ask yourself that question, are those people special to you in the first place? True friends care about your well-being and want to hear from you. When you refrain from putting everything out there and disappear, you become mysterious and surprisingly, people become more curious.
4. Fall back to the regular way communicating
Where did the phone call go? Last time I checked, it’s the first app that remains on the bottom of your iPhone screen (no discrimination against Android users) even if you have 6 scroll pages of applications, and unless you’re a savage and replaced that with something else, it’s still there. Use it. Fuck it, let’s even settle for texting. But all too often now has snapchatting become a popular medium for communicating. Excuses like it’s not as aggressive or it’s not as direct usually arise in discussion. The list goes on for people who I know that would sooner go on a date with someone because they ‘snap’d’ them instead of outright asking. While I just argued that your date prospects and love life might diminish if you remove yourself from social media, consider the ones who respond positively to phone calls or even text messages. Be a (wo)man, do the right thing.
5. You will not know what anybody else is doing
This is incredibly freeing. Being able to check up on your friends can be nice but there is something to be said about being completely unaware of what others are doing, and now that you genuinely do not know, you can remove ‘FOMO’, decompress, and you can ask. Take that opportunity to avoid getting caught up in others seemingly glamorous life (don’t lie, you do this) and be with yourself. The value this brings is massively underrated. Better yet, ask how someone is doing or what they have been up to. I find that certain topics of conversations are skipped because we already know so much about the other person’s day, and asking them would appear redundant. Not the case when you genuinely do not know, or when you are truly curious.
I am not calling for a complete abandonment of social apps but instead, can we maybe all just settle for a small break? If people really are interesting, then we should take the time to learn more about them. Better yet, if we avoid being caught up in what others are doing we can take the time to focus on ourselves. What are your goals? What is a hobby you have been meaning to take up but haven’t walked the talk? I challenge you to disconnect and fill that time with something more meaningful. Who knows, you might actually enjoy it.
If this inspired you or you liked it, please like or share it! This is my first medium post and thanks for taking the time to read! 😊