The Lost Art Of Hanging Out - Is It Time To Pop The Digital Bubble?

Houston, we have a problem!
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Houston, we have a problem! I'm not sure if you've noticed, maybe you have, but things are very out of whack. What's worse is that you (yeah you) are probably part of the problem, and you don't even realize it. 

Next time you go out for dinner or to see a concert or even see a movie take a look around. You will notice something, hell you've probably already noticed it. EVERYONE is staring down at their phones when hanging out with other humans, literally ignoring the people they are with in favor of their electronics. 

The simple art of hanging out with people is dying; our brains are literally in the cloud, and we are suffering for it. Not buying it? Several studies are linking depression to heavy use of social media and even suicides, some often done on Facebook Live. This behavior is a very disturbing trend, to say the least, and it's a pretty simple pattern to spot.

"It doesn't mean Facebook causes depression, but that depressed feelings and lots of time on Facebook and comparing oneself to others tend to go hand in hand," said study author and doctoral candidate Mai-Ly Steers. (Forbes)

Human's are social animals, we thrive off each other, and we need physical and emotional interactions to stay balanced. Otherwise, we are subjecting ourselves to the rather artificial stimulation of social media. It's time to hang out again, sans digital interruptions!

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Here are three ways to get back on track and get to know your fellow humans again. Simple forgotten pastimes are ready for a remix, so get to it. 

1. Go on a date and leave your phone in your pocket.

Yeah, date night with your significant other can be a lot of fun especially if you step it up a bit. Every month take turns on planning a fun and surprising date that you both will enjoy. Go big with the idea, find a weird place or a dope concert and make a genuine effort to make it unique. My wife just took me to a surprise Yacht Rock concert with Kenny Loggins headlining, it was epic, and we had an amazing time. One simple rule - phones were only used to shoot pictures of the yacht rockers and ourselves and then required to be put away.

If you don't have a significant other, then jump on a interracial dating site to meet someone from a different walk of life or get hooked up on a blind date, it's pretty easy these days. Just be clear on your cell phone policy on the first outing, chances are your date will be impressed with your attempt to be more present and if they think you are weird just leave them at the bar. I'm kidding, but probably best to wrap it up asap if they can't even keep their celly out of the equation for a couple hours. 

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2. Get a record player and some vinyl asap.

Vinyl is making a comeback, and there is a reason for it, and it's not what most people think. We all know that vinyl sounds better but most people are buying it because of the simple ritual of listening to it is a lot more fun. Have some friends over to your pad and ask them to bring their favorite album, crack some beers or a bottle of wine and sit around and listen to music. 

Vinyl is a process that requires more of your attention; you have to put it on and physically flip the record over when it's done playing. You are more engaged and probably paying a lot more attention to what you are listening to.  

Put a basket by the fridge for people to deposit their cell phones, if you don't put your phone in you don't get a beer. 

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3. Board games are far from boring.

Board games sound lame to many people, but if you get the right group and the right game, then it can be damn near magical. Go retro and play Candyland but add a drinking game twist, or if you are feeling more contemporary Cards Against Humanity or Taboo are always winners as well. 

Just add a couple of bottles of wine, some themed cocktails or just some good old PBR, and you will be on the road to hanging out salvation right out of the gate.

Cell phone basket deposit required to play, or have stiff penalties for looking at your phone for nonessential purposes. If you get caught checking Instagram, you have to do a shot of cinnamon schnapps or something equally as terrible. 

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