Look at me.

I’m talking to you. I’m spending my time and energy communicating with you, one human to another.  No, I will not excuse you. Your Whatsapp friends, your Facebook notifications, your Viber messages – I don’t give a damn. I am here, right now. Put that phone away, please. Look at me.

Your friends aren’t real. None of them. They’re lines of text on a screen. Names on far-away server. They’re messages sent into the void. They say seventy percent of human communication is with body language. They’re just the thirty percent. I am real. I am here.  Give me your attention – all hundred percent.  I am more important than a beep sound. Look at me.

When was the last time you truly listened to a friend? When was the last time you sat down, unencumbered by these comforts we deem essential, with only that one interaction, that one conversation in your mind? When did you give a person your full, undivided attention, unbroken by status updates, notifications, hashtags and selfies? You go through the world in a rush of meaningless, chaotic activity, taking photos, tagging people, shouting out with each message and status: look at me! notice me!  to a legion of uncaring keyboard warriors, while you, in turn, neglect the few true friends seated by your side. When did you last view the world with your own eyes rather than a filtered lens?

We have lost the skill of paying attention, all of us: we post, we campaign, we flood the world with our opinions, our facts, our photos, but we have lost the art of caring past a press of the button. Life is not a moment to be captured and posted a paltry thousand words at a time. It is to be lived, wholeheartedly, thoroughly. A conversation is not something to be broken by the comments of a lonely troll on the other side of the Internet. People are not to be replaced with screens.

It is easy to Like a status, you see: easy to press that thumbs-up, that heart, that RT button. It’s harder to take the time to come and meet you in person. This is not an experience you can get on Facebook. A smile, a nod, a handshake: a grin, a laugh: eye contact: the human connection: touch. Posture. The smell of coffee. Emotion. Anger. Happiness. Disbelief. The ten thousand faces of pain. Excitement. Whatsapp doesn’t have this. Viber doesn’t have this. You whisper into empty white chatboxes, talking to a picture on a screen: that is all you get there. Instagram, with all its filters, cannot convey this. There is only one app that does this, that lets you truly connect, and it is called Real Life, and it demands you forget all the others, put down that phone and pay attention.

Know your priorities. Look at me.