Wait! Put that phone down

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Escobedo
  • 509th Maintenance Squadron
Flash back to 1996, a young Airman walks into his team-building class. As he makes his way to the waiting area, other Airmen are standing around making introductions and carrying on in conversation. As the clock nears the starting time, the members already have an idea of who is who and where they work. Flash forward to 2015 and the same type of course, walk in and examine the room, what do you see? Typically you'll see a couple of groups who already know each other holding short conversations and others looking down at their phones. Just as quick as you notice these conversations, those groups are on their phones as well.

Yes, I know this sounds like an old guy on his soapbox complaining about technology. Don't get me wrong, technology is great! It's what technology is doing to us socially, that isn't so great. So how does this tie into the social domain of the Comprehensive Airmen Fitness pillars? A strong social network can help us through the trying times and help us celebrate our victories! The era of "instant gratification" makes it near impossible to gather socially and have face-to-face conversations.

Like I mentioned before, you walk into a class designed to teach you and create a social network. Networking is out the window when the majority of people have their heads down and faces glued to their phone.  I get it, it's easy to read a Facebook page and see up-to-date information on your friends, but how much do you really know about your Facebook friends? 

How do you know when they are in need before it's posted on the internet or sent in a text? This is where face-to-face conversations are important to all of us as a team and socially. When you sit and talk and listen to their answers, you can actually read their body language and understand how they feel about a particular topic.

The same goes for your wingman; they can get a gauge on your feelings, your emotions and understand when you say "I'm good," but you really mean "I need help!"
Without the daily face-to-face interaction, we lose the ability to understand what is being put in a Facebook post, text or e-mail. Next time you are at an event designed to introduce networking and conversation, put down your phone. Ask the person next to you how their day is, where they work and how long they've been doing it. You might meet a person who can help you in the future or vice versa!

Improving our ability to converse will build our social domain. Next time things get tough, you will be able to communicate your feelings to your wingman, friend or supervisor. Better yet, they will be able to get a gauge on you and your actions or responses in that moment. I'll end this with this question ... What do you really know about your friends, fellow Airmen or wingman? Put your phones down and find out face-to-face.