One 15-year-old I interviewed at a summer camp talked about her reaction when she went out to dinner with her father and he took out his phone to add “facts” to their conversation. “Daddy,” she said, “stop Googling. I want to talk to you.” A 15-year-old boy told me that someday he wanted to raise a family, not the way his parents are raising him (with phones out during meals and in the park and during his school sports events) but the way his parents think they are raising him — with no phones at meals and plentiful family conversation.
In 2010, a team at the University of Michigan led by the psychologist Sara Konrath put together the findings of 72 studies that were conducted over a 30-year period. They found a 40 percent decline in empathy among college students, with most of the decline taking place after 2000.
But doing one thing at a time is hard, because it means asserting ourselves over what technology makes easy and what feels productive in the short term. Multitasking comes with its own high, but when we chase after this feeling, we pursue an illusion. Conversation is a human way to practice unitasking.Go read the whole thing; it's worth it.
The thing is, if you take out your phone because they* take out their phone, all of a sudden it's a phone duel and not a conversation. You both win, and the conversation loses.
TL;dr. You are not invisible. You are a human being in a community of human beings. Put down the phone.
Or, as Sherry Turkle says, "Conversation is a human way to practice unitasking."
*I am trying out the inclusive "their" to see if I can do it.
[Edited because I sounded like the world's crankiest crankypants and am tired of being negative. ]