People phasing out of conversation

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People phasing out of conversation

Postby Roland » Wed Jan 01, 2014 10:35 pm

I've been experiencing this phenomena more often lately, many times in a short period, especially with family during the holidays. Someone will ask me a question or say something to me. I will answer or start explaning something to them and I can see their attention drift off in the middle of me speaking. I can tell they just stopped listening, whether it be from an environmental distraction or more often, just spontaneously. More frustrating is when people start playing with their phone while I'm talking - in mid sentence. The worst version of this is when I was standing in front of two people, they were talking about some phone service. We were the only 3 in a room. They were instructors supposed to be working. I started asking them a question. They both looked right at me and simultaneously, before I finished my question, they looked down and started playing with their phones/tablets.

Does anyone else experience this? I seem to be alone in this matter in my personal life. It seems like no one has any attention span anymore. Or could it just be some way I'm interacting with people?

I think I remember a post similar to this on this board before. Is this a result of meditation in an increasingly distracting world? These are all nonmeditators I assume besides 1 of these people.

Lately I've just adapted I suppose. When this happens, the person never recognizes that they phased out because they don't say something like "what were you saying?" or they purposely do it... either way they clearly lost interest. When it happens, I just give up. Its too exhausting to keep trying to explain myself and it doesn't make sense to try. I treat it like when someone interrupts me - obviously they care not what I have to say and just want to get their point across. So I just sit and listen.
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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Jan 01, 2014 10:51 pm

Nope, you're right and it's sad.

I still don't own a phone, I don't know what the long term repercussions will be...but basically it's something similar to a drug addiction, people and their phones.

You can get that way with anything (PC for instance), but not everything is so portable, titillating, and easy to get a "hit" of as the phones are, it think they are wreaking havoc on a lot of people's already addled minds, personally.

Not to say everyone is this way by any means of course, I expect that Buddhist for instance probably deal with it somewhat better, but with people who've never even contemplated having downtime from their devices, I've had the exact same experience as you.
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is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby Seishin » Wed Jan 01, 2014 11:34 pm

I admit to phasing out. No idea why. My daughter does the same. I try my best not to though and I'm incredibly embarrassed when I do. :emb: However, I don't use my phone when someone is talking to me.

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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby Roland » Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:08 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Nope, you're right and it's sad.

I still don't own a phone, I don't know what the long term repercussions will be...but basically it's something similar to a drug addiction, people and their phones.

You can get that way with anything (PC for instance), but not everything is so portable, titillating, and easy to get a "hit" of as the phones are, it think they are wreaking havoc on a lot of people's already addled minds, personally.

Not to say everyone is this way by any means of course, I expect that Buddhist for instance probably deal with it somewhat better, but with people who've never even contemplated having downtime from their devices, I've had the exact same experience as you.


I would love to go without a cell phone someday, but currently it makes me a much more productive person in my busy life. But I do make a conscious choice to make sure I do not look at my phone while someone is speaking to me, or better yet, not even carry my phone when I'm going to meet with someone, or something like that. It is an epidemic. I like to just observe people in public, in restaurants, etc. Too often I see a group of people together, none talking to each other, everyone looking down at their phones. I find it really sad. Everyone's attention is being shattered.

Seishin wrote:I admit to phasing out. No idea why. My daughter does the same. I try my best not to though and I'm incredibly embarrassed when I do. :emb: However, I don't use my phone when someone is talking to me.


I do it sometimes too. I think it comes down to almost no one is going to be interested in what I'm interested in, and vice versa. I see it as a chance to practice when it happens. I notice I phase out, then I think oh that's interesting, then redirect my attention to what the person is saying. It's like listening to someone becomes meditation...
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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby Ayu » Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:46 am

When my children ask me a question, often I feel oblidged to explain the matter thoroughly. Then they start to groan sometimes or they grin silently and saying in a bored manner:"Yes... yes.... yes....." :roll: Like this.
I ask: "Why do you ask me questions, if you are not interested in the answer?"
They say that they didn't expect such a long answer. They prefer two short sentences and that's enough for them.
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby Roland » Thu Jan 02, 2014 1:23 am

I think I also have a really hard time simplifying things that are really complex. What you said, Ayu, I think is what a lot of people feel. I think the problem is that I'm trying to have a conversation, but people are just too scattered with so much going on at once. So it is easier to just say a few sentences. But I think conversations are degraded into "idle chatter" about normal day to day stuff... then its sort of a waste of time. Like people prefer simpler, concise chatter because they have no time for deep conversations...but then it becomes a waste of time because in the end, the conversation becomes meaningless....... samsara, eh?! :oops:
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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:21 am

Not an actual Einstein quote (misattributed), but still makes a pretty good point:

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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby smcj » Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:24 am

I went to a professional baseball game and the 10 year old boys sitting behind me were playing on their phones the entire time.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby Qing Tian » Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:33 am

Good subject for a thread!

I too have noticed this ever-increasing phenomenon and find it to be somewhat depressing. As an aside, I do carry a mobile phone with me, but it is the cheapest, simplest, and least feature-rich version I could find: it does phone calls and texts (I believe) but not much else. It is there only for rare needs. In 2013 I think I made about 5 calls on it and received about the same, and about a dozen text messages. People I work with/are friends with/play with all think I am a bit strange. Personally I consider it to be exceptionally discourteous to use a phone during a face-to-face a conversation (unless it is a genuine emergency) - to the point that if the same person does it to me twice I simply walk away.

On a broader note I would like to drag into the thread something about emails too. What I had noticed (and this goes for mobile text messaging too) is that it is too easy to fire and forget. What I mean is that it is easy to dash out a message and send it without giving its content and meaning proper consideration. The downside to this is, of course, those embarrassing messages people wish they had never sent. I spotted this trend a while back and realised I was slipping perilously down that slope (with emails). So, now, email is for informational purposes only - work, meetings etc. If I want to write a personal communication to someone I have re-adopted the old idea of using actual paper and a real honest-to-God fountain pen... and it is great! Now I take time to consider my words on the page, in part because it is potentially a permanent record, and in part because I have to employ some skill in crafting both the prose and the laying of the ink on the paper. An upside of all this is that I feel my thought processes are becoming much clearer, richer, more varied and infused with a greater creativity!

Obviously I am writing this message on the internet, but even then I sometimes jot notes down before I touch the keyboard (doesn't absolve me of poor argument skills though :smile: )

On an even broader note, I am confused as to why everyone is rushing around so much these days. On the way home last week I was driving more or less at the upper edge of the permitted speed limit (as most of the traffic was) when I was overtaken by a guy who wove in and out of traffic in an alarming fashion, clearly in a hurry. As it happened, he was going to a house not far from where I was heading. I passed him as he was getting out of his car and figured he had saved about 10 seconds on his journey. He had, however, put everyone else at higher risk on the way. Why?

Furthermore, my neighbours, who are retired, wait until the weekend to use all their power tools. Why? Why not do it during the week when most of the residents in the neighborhood are at work? I cannot sit and enjoy peace in my garden because of this. The noise they make affects houses in a fairly wide area, not just their own. Actually, the University that I work in does this too. At lunchtime during the week, at the time when most students/staff would like to sit in the tranquility of its beautiful grounds and eat lunch, that's when they use all the big mowers and chainsaws and whatnot.

Overall my impression is that inter-personal consideration is on a precipitous decline across all areas of societal life. I guess there may well be a breaking point somewhere in the not-too-distant future. :(
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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby greentara » Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:58 am

Yes I've also noticed the pandemic of mobile zombies.
On New Years Eve we went along a beautiful river walk waiting for the firework display to blaze at midnight. Most people didn't look at the dazzling display in the moment, instead constantly, I mean constantly took pictures on their iphones.....you could say they were seeing and experiencing life secondhand.
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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby reddust » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:15 am

We, that is my husband and I, haven't bought a new iPhone since 2009, we bought our first in 2007. Mine broke and I will not buy another smart phone for many reasons. My husband and I were the one of the first in our group to buy a smart phone and we got to see our group of friends and coworkers that were very social get totally addicted to the iPhone/Android and phase out of one on one conversations. We don't take cell phones with us when we go out anymore. I take a real camera when I want to take pictures. I still love taking pictures and sharing but not obsessively anymore. No more silly selfies on the social networks for me and I am saving lots of money and broke an obsessive habit.

It's always a challenge for me to stay in a conversation because most people talk about stuff that is really boring to me, shows on TV, Movies, Sports, what's popular and trivia stuff. I am the one to phase out….. I actually study what is popular right now so I can carry on a meaningful conversation with my now ex coworkers and my husband's friends. Not many people want to listen about my latest Dharma book, painting, seed acquisition, or garden pest problem.

Most of the time when we go out with friends they are so preoccupied with their phones all my study is for not! :shrug:
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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:26 am

Qing Tian wrote:...Overall my impression is that inter-personal consideration is on a precipitous decline across all areas of societal life. I guess there may well be a breaking point somewhere in the not-too-distant future. :(


My guess is that within a generation or two (provided something apocalyptic doesn't send us back to hunter gatherer status or something) there will be a major kind of cultural revolt from a chunk of the population against the direction this kind of tech-aided consumerism has taken us in. It won't be a Luddite "chuck it all" approach, but hopefully an attempt to adopt a saner lifestyle regarding things like phones, and a better way of interacting...even in a basic social sense I think if things like Google glass ever begin replacing phones, the hit to people's socialization would be ten times what it is now, people will literally lose any semblance of skill in face to face interaction that they have now.

One thing that really is alarming to me: When I was 20 or so, I considered myself antisocial, due in part to social anxiety, and just general weirdness.

Now approaching 40, I meet a lot of teenagers (and plenty of adults really) who lack a basic level of face to face emotional maturity that would have been a given for me at that age..and like I said, I was a poor example! Basically, by today's standards I actually have some social skill..part of it is due to my own changes, but I could swear the better part is actually just that other people have gotten worse at face to face interaction from spending half the day on a phone. I often find that i'm the only one that doesn't seem uncomfortable, or can keep a conversation in x, y, or z situation..and that is new!

Maybe it's just the grumbly old man in me coloring my perceptions, I fully acknowledge that's possible..but honestly the generation of people growing up with this sort of communication seems like it's going to have some HUGE problems with any human interaction that doesn't go through a screen., maybe they will just do away with it entirely, communicate entirely through glasses, phone, whatever.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby Lhasa » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:41 am

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche has asked all his students to join him in taking one weekend a month off from phones and internet starting this year. And to use the time for family, practice, self-nurturing in nature etc.
I don't have an iphone so that part isn't a problem for me. I don't watch tv either, so internet is my source for news. But no bad news for two days sure won't hurt me. :smile:
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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby reddust » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:55 am

Lhasa wrote:Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche has asked all his students to join him in taking one weekend a month off from phones and internet starting this year. And to use the time for family, practice, self-nurturing in nature etc.
I don't have an iphone so that part isn't a problem for me. I don't watch tv either, so internet is my source for news. But no bad news for two days sure won't hurt me. :smile:


I did this for a year after we moved from living in downtown Chicago to my home state here in Oregon back in 2010. I can honestly say I am addicted to the net and I had withdrawals. Thank goodness I could remember what it was like without the net and draw on my old habits of reading and hobbies. I had a life before the net, many folk don't have that basis to draw from.
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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:56 am

Just remembered:

there is a book called The Distraction Addiction about this very thing, it's really good.

Also, i'm married to a Jew and I chose to observe Shabbat rules about communicaiton with her every week, primarily so that I have a day free of electronic communication. I don't go as hard core as she does..but "technology Sabbaths" are a good idea, IMO...and fit really well with Buddhist practice. Not a lot I identify with in Judaism..but this is one thing they really have right IMO.

http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2012/06/w ... abbath158/

couple pieces of software I use to limit things:

http://macfreedom.com/

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefo ... eechblock/
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is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby Roland » Thu Jan 02, 2014 7:17 am

I think the cell phone appendage is literally slowly killing us. From the potential damage of the EMF radiation to the studies that showed when people check their emails, they literally stop breathing. What kind of damage is this doing to humanity? Breath is life, no life, no breath. People are dying, basically, for short spurts while reading emails. Consider that while adding how many emails, on average, a person in bombarded with daily...

Qing Tian wrote:Overall my impression is that inter-personal consideration is on a precipitous decline across all areas of societal life. I guess there may well be a breaking point somewhere in the not-too-distant future. :(


I tend to think as more people move back towards the natural world, stick their feet in the dirt and realize we need to return to nature in many ways for many different benefits, that will be the change we are looking for. Well, that's me anyhow...

reddust wrote:It's always a challenge for me to stay in a conversation because most people talk about stuff that is really boring to me, shows on TV, Movies, Sports, what's popular and trivia stuff. I am the one to phase out….. I actually study what is popular right now so I can carry on a meaningful conversation with my now ex coworkers and my husband's friends. Not many people want to listen about my latest Dharma book, painting, seed acquisition, or garden pest problem.

Most of the time when we go out with friends they are so preoccupied with their phones all my study is for not! :shrug:


I actually feel this way as well. People ask me what I do for fun, I usually say reading, they ask me what I'm reading.... then it goes no where because literally no one else I know is reading Dharma :p. Its sort of like fight club. You don't talk about Dharma, just "do it" so to speak. But then what are we talking about? There is always that divide. I care what I care about and the other person cares what they care about. Rarely do the subjects overlap in my experience. I try to focus on what information is practical and that I can use in some way for multiple benefits...

Johnny Dangerous wrote:My guess is that within a generation or two (provided something apocalyptic doesn't send us back to hunter gatherer status or something) there will be a major kind of cultural revolt from a chunk of the population against the direction this kind of tech-aided consumerism has taken us in. It won't be a Luddite "chuck it all" approach, but hopefully an attempt to adopt a saner lifestyle regarding things like phones, and a better way of interacting...even in a basic social sense I think if things like Google glass ever begin replacing phones, the hit to people's socialization would be ten times what it is now, people will literally lose any semblance of skill in face to face interaction that they have now.


I think it takes such an incredibly long time for our physiology to evolve or adapt to whatever particular input that it seems like there will be either a breaking point or the immense stress of the exponential advancement at breakneck speed of technology will actually start to devolve our genetics. Those who are more aware will start to step back, like some already are, but I fear for the kids who are growing up now and in future generations. Considering the epigenetic effects of technology on pregnant woman transferring to the baby, then the baby being born into this light speed world, ever younger and younger children receiving cell phones and the effects of that on society etc, etc...

I would like to be positive and point out that humans adapt to an incredible range of circumstances, but how quickly can that really happen?

reddust wrote:
Lhasa wrote:Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche has asked all his students to join him in taking one weekend a month off from phones and internet starting this year. And to use the time for family, practice, self-nurturing in nature etc.
I don't have an iphone so that part isn't a problem for me. I don't watch tv either, so internet is my source for news. But no bad news for two days sure won't hurt me. :smile:


I did this for a year after we moved from living in downtown Chicago to my home state here in Oregon back in 2010. I can honestly say I am addicted to the net and I had withdrawals. Thank goodness I could remember what it was like without the net and draw on my old habits of reading and hobbies. I had a life before the net, many folk don't have that basis to draw from.


These are amazing ideas. It is so freeing to go even just a day or two without technology... really good stuff. :)
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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby muni » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:26 am

Hi Roland,

There were recently a large group of people asked about their use of pc - face book, twitter, and mobil phone contacts. A lot of the people said they start to have more than enough of these, they want what they call real contacts.

By a phone, we can bore everyone from distance while not aware from our environment. Attention is swept away. Then on internet, we can learn a lot, while forgetting how to comfort a child trembling of fear.

Be fully there, is what I get from your talk. :namaste:
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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby Roland » Fri Jan 03, 2014 4:48 am

muni wrote:Be fully there, is what I get from your talk. :namaste:


I think you said what I was trying to say without me actually being aware that this is indeed what I was attempting to convey.

In my experience, when I phase out, it is essentially a form of boredom, dull mind state and escapism. The same thing goes when people are constantly looking at their phones while people are talking at them. They are trying to escape their experience of what is arising (the other person talking, etc). Eventually it just becomes a conditioned habituated pattern.. then others see them do it and it triggers them to do it, causing a snowball of neurosis effect upon society....
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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:52 am

Yet another coping mechanism to escape suffering.
God, we're good at coming up with those.
My friends do this a lot.
I try to make it a point not to use my cell phone when we have company over.
It's like people can't stand silence or lulls... as soon as there's a moment, the phone comes out.
What are they running from all the time? I think we know, but they have no idea they're even running, and it's very sad.
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Except that it refuses to make preferences;
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It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
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Re: People phasing out of conversation

Postby wisdom » Fri Jan 03, 2014 9:21 am

The trick is to stop wanting to have anything to say.
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