I recently read a Wall Street Journal article about how to maintain proper dinner etiquette in a social media-centric world. It discussed several smartphone “mis-manners” (such as texting while eating or leaving phones on the table during dinner parties) and explained how modern-day hosts and hostesses deal with mobile-obsessed guests.

Although the article focused on dinner etiquette, it opened my eyes to how smartphone-dependent my generation has become. Don’t get me wrong: I think smartphones rock. From quirky apps to quick-access searches, the smartphone serves as a gateway drug to interesting (and sometimes educational) conversations. My trusty iPhone can help me share recent photos and videos with long-lost friends. It enables me to offer instant insights: whether I’m bantering about how tall Justin Bieber really is (approximately 5’7″  if you’re curious) or wondering who’s leading the 2012 presidential campaign polls.

Despite the smartphone’s all-encompassing superpowers, I sometimes wonder if being so connected actually disconnects us in the process. I can’t count how many times I’ve met up with a friend, and he/she proceeded to send texts and check Facebook multiple times throughout our hour-long conversation. Although I know my friends mean know harm, it’s disheartening to not have someone’s full attention: especially when you haven’t connected with that individual in quite some time.

It’s as if our generation has a severe case of FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. We can’t even sit down for a half-hour coffee conversation without scrolling through Instagram or sending a few texts.

I fear how this uber-connected mentality will affect our relationships: both personal and professional. Are we really as great at multitasking as we think we are? Will we be able to truly connect face-to-face if we’re too busy catching up on what’s happening in the SoLoMo realm?

I felt compelled to write about this because I’m just as guilty as the next Millennial. I’ve sent non-urgent texts during coffee dates and checked my Facebook feed during dinner one too many times. I need to be held accountable, too. (Disclaimer: I think I checked Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Gmail and Twitter at least twice during the time it took me to write this post.)

So here’s my challenge: Let’s hold each other accountable and remove distractions. Let’s make a conscious effort to put our phones away and give our friends, family and loved ones our undivided, Facebook-free attention. Let’s disconnect so we can finally reconnect.

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