Asynchronous conversation

A common experience for me as a 24-year-old in conversation is that my friend will say something, and then when it’s my turn to respond they start looking at their phone! And I’m embarrassed to admit it makes me want to do it back! My face-to-face conversations are starting to resemble text conversations, like we’re just sending voice memos back and forth. I feel like people my age are only comfortable with conversations we can completely control.


@Katelyn You are insightful and reflective in a way our world really needs! Thank you so much for sharing.

My question after reading your post is- how does this make you feel? Do you feel like you are connecting on a level
that is satisfying to you? Do you feel understood? Does it make you think the person is disinterested?

Another question- Did you feel like walking away, or like trying to connect?

When people do this in front of me- I walk away- it’s hard to pull people’s attention from their phone- so I consider this the end of the conversation. It’s easy fir me to say though cause I have over 22 years on you and didn’t grow up with smart phones.


I’m interested in this too. What do you look on your phone @Katelyn when your friend is talking to you?
You actually look something (you chat with another person, scroll at a social feed, …) or you just look down at anything not to look too involved in the conversation, to have a break from it?

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@healthyswimmer, that’s really sweet of you. I definitely think it is shallowing my relationships, and that probably the answer is to model the behavior I want to see! I’m afraid to take too hard a stance on it though since my friends know I follow the humane tech community and I’m scared of coming off an evangelist! Thank you so much for your insights and experience!


Good questions @micheleminno. I think in the past when I’ve relied on my phone in social situations it’s to give myself a break or insulate myself from something (maybe from confronting an impasse in conversation, for example!) I’m also always in some stage of trying to reduce my Internet use so at times when I’m fighting the temptation to check my apps it’s easier to give in when my friends are too!

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Here’s a short story about asynchronous conversations, which look more interesting and smart because of the asynchronous nature of messages (you have plenty of time to think of a clever/funny reply), but totally lacking empathy and potentially turning people into their complete opposite when you know them personally and physically:


@Katelyn I see what you are saying about evangelizing. With that said many realizations in 20 something years go like this., A 20 something has profound realizations in general, and can change life quickly (friends, activities, schools, where you live etc…) with little attachment to responsibility (which is natural and good). As you get older it’s harder to change things due to increasing responsibilities to other people. Anyways… don’t be afraid to strike out and try new things- join a new sport or club- especially one with outdoors focus. Try painting, theater or activities that don’t require the use of a phone.

I’m probably coming off as an old geezer now- but it’s not the phone- it’s growing and change. 20 something friends change all the time- and it’s good- it means you are taking chances and forming your self assured adult person.

So go ahead and be bold and true to yourself, and you’ll end up with the connection your soul is seeking. Friends come and go but the true ones remain no matter what.


I really appreciate it, @healthyswimmer! I think about that a lot too, how our responsibilities to other people as we get older make it harder to rebel. I even look at teens now and feel like they have more moral courage than me! I will take your advice to heart.


@Katelyn it’s not just that’s it’s harder to rebel. It’s that after one gets married and has kids- you can’t really choose your friends based on your individuality as much. You learn to hold strong to your beliefs and stay close to people at the same time if your kid needs a ride to swim practice;). It’s hard to explain- but you are not a rebel for having a strong opinion- your opinion is what makes you unique- friends should thank you for sharing your inner self. If people don’t want to know our passions- what kind of friend is that??

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katelyn - nice to see you here. i’m a geezer too, but one who’s been deeply enmeshed in online communication since i was 22. but yeah, we couldn’t carry it around in our pockets back then.

asynchronous communication can be fantastic. i still spend a fair amount of time in an online community, in discussions that are mediated by computers and phones, distance and time. but i ditched today’s social media (for all the reasons you must know, since you landed here in Humane Tech).

i say, let’s keep up asynchronous comm. back in the day they called it “epistolary” – epistles. writing each other letters. we have wonderful letters from the authors and poets of old. they were geeks, right? they wanted to write!

but it’s also possible to negotiate with friends about phone and face-to-face time. i’d approach it one person at a time. text them, “Hey, ___ - I want to learn how to really be in person better with my friends. Including you. Could you help? How about if we agree to put our phones aside when we hang out IRL? lmk what you think.” or something like that.

healthyswimmer is right. you’re young, friendships move and change. your friends will see a leader in you, if you’re willing to step out and try something new. back when i got online, no one could imagine why a healthy, decent looking, non-shy 22 year old female would possibly want to use a computer to talk to people. they thought i was pretty wild. and now they’re all online… maybe you could surprise your peers by pulling the opposite of what i did.


Katelyn- Happy New Year! You got another “geezer” here at 53. I work for an app company whose mission is to reduce digital time for students across the US and I am the guy that is “old school” by not using my phone 24/7 and my family is included. We try and have a healthy balance of screen time and much more personal time but find it hard with our kids and their friends being wired constantly.
I wanted to share a quick story that happened when I was the driver for my 8 year olds field trip about an hour from us with 4 of her classmates. When the kids got in the van one boy immediately went to his backpack and pulled out his tablet and was heading into his own world and I stopped him and asked him to put it away because we were going to play some games. I told them we were going to play 20 questions to get started and my daughter was excited but the others all asked “what’s that” - I was shocked that none of them had even heard of it much less ever played.
We started in and had to explain the rules and there was still a “not sure about this look” on all of them, except for the boy who was defiant at first and just looking out the window. Once we got going they all started to gain more interest. Long story short, an hour later we arrived and they all were in the middle of the game and I said we could finish on our way back and they all said “No” we want to finish now and were ok being the last out of our car to go on the field trip- The boy even said that he has a great one for the ride back.

My point is that these kids didn’t know of the fun they could have until I, and my daughter, introduced it to them. You too will have moments and opportunities to have this affect on others. I didn’t preach to them, just showed them another way.
Have a great 2019


@bigdave I could have written your post. The thing that upsets me is even though my child knows how to have fun- she is learning how to be dissatisfied by mocking her peers unknowingly- just because she is around kids that just don’t know how to play anymore.

I’m always so disappointed in the social opportunities for kids at school after chaperoning field trips. I can’t believe the way kids live now. You have to host lots of play dates and create a “normal” existence to develop a healthy social network today- the days of sending your kids off to play on their own are over…

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I never thought of it that way @magdalen! I love that. There is something pure about how we’ve remade the old communication styles to fit our modern life.

I will definitely take your advice to heart and try to stand firm in my ideals. I can already see the tables turning on tech addiction and these ideas going more mainstream, and I would be pretty mad at myself if I let other people’s norms dictate how I live when the trends are just gonna change again.

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@bigdave, I love that story. Thank you for what you’re doing to safeguard the next gen!

You bet. It’s a journey for sure