Sorry, You Can't Have a Conversation & Use Your Smartphone at the Same Time

upset with husband textingLet's paint the scene. You: trying to tell your husband about the giant diaper blow-out your baby had. Your husband: scrolling through his phone, saying, "Mmmhm." Have a feeling that he didn't hear a single thing you said? Science says ... you're absolutely right. But it's not his fault.


Remember how we told you about phubbing -- ignoring others because you're oh-so-busy swiping on your beloved smartphone? (No judgment. We're all guilty of it.)

Well, a new study makes us feel slightly less guilty about this whole phubbing thing. Because, you know, it's totally NOT our fault.


According to new findings published today in the Journal of Neuroscience, when you're focused on a visual task, you can't actually hear that well. At all.

That's because hearing and vision both utilize the same brain region. And apparently, whatever gets there first, wins.

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We know that sometimes, theoretical results are applied to the real world, and we just assume that because X happened in a laboratory setting that Y and Z must be true for all of us.

There's none of that gray area here. One of the researchers even came right out and said, "You might think that the person [on their phone] is ignoring you. But their brain just can't respond to your voice. So, you shouldn't take it personally."

What you can do, however, is ask them to put their phone down so they can f****** hear you. And of course, give them the same courtesy.

And lest you think we're only blaming screens, BOOKS can cause the same "Wait, what?" phenomenon.

We all keep insisting/believing/hoping that we can multitask, yes? But this study is yet another solid reason why it just ain't true. The brain has to switch from one task to another, a neuroscience expert explained to in response to this study. It simply CAN'T do two things at once, unless one of those things is sheer habit.

So, you can, say, fold laundry when you're listening to a friend gripe about her day. Or brush your teeth when your kiddo is recounting this massive Minecraft thingy he built.

But to make sure you're totally hearing what someone else is saying, put down your phone. And book. And laptop. And mail. And bills that just came in the mail. And instead, ONLY listen.

Who knows? Maybe that will become a new habit.


Image via © Faba Ortega

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