How to be more interesting than a phone.
Have you ever been to a party where everyone in the room is staring down at their phones instead of talking to one another?
Or a concert where everyone is recording the musical performance on their devices instead of actually experiencing the music?
I realize that I sound like a grumpy tech-phobic curmudgeon (I’m not, really).
But these kinds of scenes are distressingly common.
Here’s the problem:
Phones are really interesting. More than just interesting — they are infinitely mesmerizing and entertaining!
Smartphones are like a 24/7 candy store for the senses — endless information at your fingertips, content to consume in never-ending spirals, voyeuristic peeks into other people’s lives, opportunities to receive the delicious dopamine pellet validation-spike of a “like” or “re-tweet” at any moment you wish.
To hold people’s attention in this day and age, you’ve got some pretty stiff competition.
You’ve got to be… more interesting than a phone.
That’s no easy feat. But with a little flair and effort, it can be done!
Here are my personal recommendations on how to be more interesting than a phone:
– Wear an amazing hat.
This is not a joke. My mom now wears a fascinator — a tiny decorative hat with feathers, lace, and beads — pretty much every time she leaves the house, be it to the grocery store or a black tie event. It’s a show stopper. People rush towards her in amazement, crying out, “What is that on your head? Who are you? I must know you!!” Elderly patrons of the arts throw themselves at her. Gay men question their orientations. People lose their shit over these fascinators. I am telling you: get an amazing hat because it might change your life and the world.
– Invite people to talk about themselves.
There is a reason why social media has become wildly popular — it’s a forum for billions of people to talk about themselves without interruption!
Most people thoroughly enjoy talking about themselves — especially if you ask a fun, exciting question like “What are you obsessed with these days?” or “What’s the last TV show or book that totally pulled you in?” or “Do you believe in ghosts?”
Invite people to tell you a story about themselves, listen intently, and they will adore you.
– Make people feel sexy.
When was the last time that someone flirted unabashedly with you? Or made you feel exceptionally desirable? Or gave you a bold compliment? I bet you can remember that moment vividly. It is forever etched into your mind.
Offer droplets of appreciation like, “You look especially handsome right now.” “You are a goddess.” “Look at those gams! Lock up your daughters!” “Beyoncé called: she wants her bootie back!” “Your smile lights up the whole room!” “Your eyes look like liquid chocolate!” etc.
Everyone wants to feel sexy and you can provide that feeling. You don’t have to be lewd or lascivious. Just lock eye contact and say something appreciative.
Can’t think of anything to say? Listen intently without saying anything. The simple experience of “being heard” also makes people feel very sexy.
– Bust out a Tarot deck (or another prop of your choosing).
I often bring my favorite Tarot deck to parties. I am not a professional reader, but I’ll ask, “Does anybody want a reading?” and pretty much everyone says “YES!!”
Soon, the entire room is gathered around and before long, everyone is discussing everyone else’s readings, emotions are spilled, truths are revealed, plans are made, more wine is poured, and the tedious, phone-focused gathering has been transformed into an unforgettable night!
Maybe Tarot isn’t your thing. But perhaps you can do astrology… or magic tricks… or read palms… or style hair (I did this at another party, and it was equally awesome)… or paint tiny hearts on people’s nails… or teach people how to flip an omelette using only one hand and no spatula. Choose a prop or talent and invite people to play with you.
– Suggest a simple group activity that everyone can do.
I once threw a dinner party and told my friends, “It’s National Letter Writing Week so how about we all write letters after dinner?” And we did. And it was wonderful. And nobody was on their phone.
— Be loud or be quiet. Just be you.
You don’t necessarily have to be “loud” or “flashy” to grip people’s attention or strike up a conversation.
I am actually a very quiet, introverted person and I rarely enjoy loud chatter or big, boisterous events.
But even if you are soft-spoken with a quiet, peaceful disposition, you can find a way to draw people’s attention away from their phones and back into the present moment.
Often, all it takes is one great conversation-sparking question.
If all else fails, I repeat:
Wear an amazing hat.