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Smartphone usage and loss of ability to read signals


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Old 13th October 2018, 6:36 PM   #1
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Smartphone usage and loss of ability to read signals

Because of the stories in the news lately, we've been talking about rape, sexual harassment, #MeToo etc a lot here.
Several times I've read men here saying that women will scream rape if a man looks at them funny or gives them a compliment.
I've started to run into that sentiment other places online as well as of late.
At first, I thought it was hyperbole.. but now I'm wondering if this is actually happening and wondering if the increase in paranoia between the sexes might be related to smartphone usage.

Is it possible that we are losing the ability to "read the room"?

I would never consider a compliment a sexual assault. I don't understand a woman that would.
I can tell from the change in a man's voice to the look in his eyes, what he's thinking in regards to me, and most men were able to pick up on my signals.

I'm not talking about psychos, character disordered, rapists, narcissists, or sociopaths. I know those people are manipulative and not as easy to read, I'm just talking about regular guys and girls.


I used to wait tables, and I'd read that if you touched your customers the tip got bigger, BUT, it only works if the people like you. If they don't like you, touching them will make them tip you even less.
I was always able to tell which tables were really "feeling me" and which ones were not, and I used that trick as often as possible and I swear it works.
From what I'm reading these days it doesn't seem like most people would be able to do that anymore.

Everywhere we look we see people looking down at their phones, even when in a group of people. When I left waitressing, I had just started to notice that happening at more and more tables.
Now when I dine out, it's all of us, every table. Me too, I finally got rid of my landline two years ago and got an iPhone, and though it's fun. I sometimes regret it because I've been assimilated into the smartphone borg.

Maybe we just are not interacting enough with the opposite sex anymore in real life, face to face and have lost the ability to pick up on all the subtle signals people send out and it's causing paranoia and mass miscommunication.
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Old 14th October 2018, 1:45 AM   #2
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Maybe we just are not interacting enough with the opposite sex anymore in real life, face to face and have lost the ability to pick up on all the subtle signals people send out and it's causing paranoia and mass miscommunication.
Like all technology, smart phones are a double-edged sword. As I've said before, as a society we're conducting a huge unwitting social experiment on Millennials and Gen Xers, no generation has ever integrated a device like this so completely into their lives before.

And so I think the phenomena you describe is real, young people have lost some feel for context and perspective in dealing with other people, opposite sex included.

Could just be the tip of the iceberg, guess we'll know in 30-40 years...

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Old 14th October 2018, 2:21 AM   #3
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I don't think it's smartphone usage. And I don't think this is just about men and woman relating to each other because we see similar knee jerk reactions across a number of areas from child rearing to xenophobia. I think the cause is that we cultivate our news feeds to reflect the things we're concerned about. Then we keep seeing things that we're concerned about and think it's a bigger issue than it really is.

Let's look at how so many families who live in generally safe environments are too afraid to let their kids walk to school alone. The risk is likely no greater than when I was a kid, but because of the 24hr news cycle and general hysteria, we have stopped giving our kids the freedom to grow and learn. It's the same problem as guys being scared of being falsely accused. Yes, it can happen just as kidnapping can happen - but we can't walk around in fear.
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Old 14th October 2018, 6:07 AM   #4
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I don't think it's smartphone usage. And I don't think this is just about men and woman relating to each other because we see similar knee jerk reactions across a number of areas from child rearing to xenophobia. I think the cause is that we cultivate our news feeds to reflect the things we're concerned about. Then we keep seeing things that we're concerned about and think it's a bigger issue than it really is.

Let's look at how so many families who live in generally safe environments are too afraid to let their kids walk to school alone. The risk is likely no greater than when I was a kid, but because of the 24hr news cycle and general hysteria, we have stopped giving our kids the freedom to grow and learn. It's the same problem as guys being scared of being falsely accused. Yes, it can happen just as kidnapping can happen - but we can't walk around in fear.
I remember when I was a kid, a group of us kindergarteners would meet up outside and walk to school together, which was a few blocks away. Most of us did. I don't think the bus even picked up people that close to the school.

When I was married my ex had kids. I remember taking her kids to school and there was a woman who would pack her kid into her SUV and drive the little tyke to the school...that was directly next to their house.
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Old 14th October 2018, 6:32 AM   #5
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When I was married my ex had kids. I remember taking her kids to school and there was a woman who would pack her kid into her SUV and drive the little tyke to the school...that was directly next to their house.
OMG you're making this up!! Seriously? Who would be that stupid...
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Old 14th October 2018, 6:41 AM   #6
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OMG you're making this up!! Seriously? Who would be that stupid...
I wish I was! She would still be in her pajamas and slippers every morning. I remember her clearly. The house they lived in was right on the side of the road and the school was recessed a bit, so it wasn't like 10 feet away or anything, but she did live right next to the school. My ex-wife and I used to laugh at her driving her little prince all of 200 feet to school.
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Old 14th October 2018, 7:23 AM   #7
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Interesting point - as a member of said generation I'm not sure if I can say there has or hasn't been a general loss of ability to read people. But if there has, I wouldn't put it down to smartphone use directly - instead I'd say it's more down to the short attention span and the need for information to be in clear, short "sound bites" (short social media posts or pictures, etc) as opposed to longer formats. I think that might result in less ability to understand nuance... and nuance is core to being able to read body language.

Only once I was fully treated for anxiety and depression was I able to read people as well as I can now - probably something to do with being able to focus outside my own mind and on others. It's a lot more obvious to me now if someone I meet is into me... which helps me behave accordingly (either reciprocate or run depending on my situation) a lot sooner
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Old 14th October 2018, 9:53 AM   #8
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There a lot of memes around sexual harassment and assault in the internet, most of them can be seeing using Instagram on your phone. I don't think we've lost the ability to read signals we are just becoming bad at it. In my case, as a 22 year old male that used texting a lot during highschool, I'm capable of having female friends but I have a hard time reading body language.
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Old 14th October 2018, 11:27 AM   #9
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Interesting point - as a member of said generation I'm not sure if I can say there has or hasn't been a general loss of ability to read people. But if there has, I wouldn't put it down to smartphone use directly - instead I'd say it's more down to the short attention span and the need for information to be in clear, short "sound bites" (short social media posts or pictures, etc) as opposed to longer formats. I think that might result in less ability to understand nuance... and nuance is core to being able to read body language.


Right, a person that isn't skilled in body language and having media-induced fears like basil said, living in social and online echo chambers is a bad combination.
Confusion waiting to happen.

A friendly compliment becomes worrying to a woman like that.
And a man like that might not pick up on the many signals a woman is sending that say "I'm not into you".

I rarely in the past had to actually tell a guy that I wasn't into him, the ones that were rejected could pick up on it and moved on.
In this climate, it seems a rejected man would keep trying.

I read guys complain on here and other places that women don't mind sexual harassment if it is coming from a guy they are into.
I think that's partially true, we don't want to be sexually harassed by any guy, even guys we like.
However, a guy I'm open to can go further than I guy I don't like.
If a guy I don't like touches me, I'm apt to like him even less.

But my experience was that most guys and girls understood where they stood with other people. There were some false starts and a bit of miscommunication, but I don't remember this mass hysteria and fear between the sexes.

On the other hand, the only place I see these sentiments is online.
On the other-other hand, I've been on the net since the late '80's and I've only been aware of people saying things like this in the last couple of years.
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Old 14th October 2018, 5:42 PM   #10
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I think the cause is that we cultivate our news feeds to reflect the things we're concerned about. Then we keep seeing things that we're concerned about and think it's a bigger issue than it really is.
But how did you have a 24-hour, in-your-face news feed before smart phones? I understand the device is only the messenger, but to your point it's ability to reinforce certain POV's is unprecedented. Like I said, we'll know more in 30-40 years as some things we may now see as tendencies become hard attributes.

I just hope we like the answers we get...

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Old 17th October 2018, 1:17 AM   #11
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l can't really think of anything these days that is good for people in too many ways .
And the madness of ideas out there , the internet, so called smart phones, stories all over the internet, the over analyzing to death and labels that even in my life time didn't exist only 20yrs ago, everything media , and on and on it goes.
lf anyone in their 40s or 50s can't see it all happening they truly must have their head up you know where or be short a few cards.
Even the questions and talk all over the internet and in forums is like particulary younger people now are literally stunted or just lost in senses and common sense and things that just came natural to me or anyone l knew when l was younger.

l find it all , just bloody sad and it's very very obvious where it's all gonna finish up , even sooner than we could of imagined.

Kinda glad l'm this age , but l worry for my daughter. Thankfully we've raised her to be one of the most grounded and common sense kids l've ever met.
But l worry that even her clear and brilliant mind won't be able to keep ignoring all the rubbish through her lifetime that's all on it's way in the future.

lt's all just really sad what's happening to the world , to people. to life.
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