Think these guys can convince you to stop looking at your phone?

The call-to-action social campaign “Put It On Friend Mode” is now here. Initiated by four friends from NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, this social movement comes with a simple request for everyone to be better friends. The team tells us what sets them apart.

Tell us what the movement’s aim is.

The main objective is to instill social awareness among people in Singapore about using mobile phones in social settings. While mobile phones enable us to connect with friends and family, they can conversely cause a disconnect when used excessively around each other.

The types of behavior the movement targets include the following: gaming, browsing the internet, idly browsing Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, taking photos of food and proceeding to edit them, being absorbed in a text conversation, and in general paying unnecessary attention to your phone at the expense of loved ones.

How has the response been?

Our friends were supportive of this movement, even in spite of some initial doubt that it would take off. Many have said our movement has been a great reminder for them to change their anti-social habits. We have received an amazing response from our campus visits. Through these roadshows, our online efforts and word-of-mouth, we have garnered more than 1800 pledges to date.

The people we approached to be a part of our campaign also believe in the need for such a cause. Many of the cafe owners not only agreed with the cause, but even suggested some interesting ideas that we could adopt.

We were initially doubtful that we would get support of YouTube personalities, but the Tree Potatoes proved us wrong – they not only took time to speak with us, they also agreed to be involved in one of our videos, “10 Ways to Get Your Friends Off Their Phones”.

So are you guys leading by example at social gatherings?

We don’t like to follow after hypocrites. We would say that prior to launching this campaign, some of us were guilty of using our phones unnecessarily. Now that we are part of this campaign, we have taken it upon ourselves to practice what we preach, and to always “Put It On Friend Mode” (i.e. phones face-down) when we are with our friends and families. In any case, failure to do so will always be met with threats to have photographs of us taken and posted on Stomp. We take these threats very seriously. So the answer is yes—we strive to lead by example.

It is unfortunately very challenging for our generation of people not to utilize our phones in front of others. We know that technology has given us quick and convenient entertainment, and technology has become so mobile. 

Did you have any reservations about people’s reaction at being told what to do?

We decided not to turn it into something revolving around etiquette. People tend to shut down easily when you tell them what to do. You won’t find anything that goes along the angle of “being polite”. The social movement encourages people to think of friendship and relationships. A question we would like people to ask themselves is: “When did we begin allowing our phones to take higher importance than the people we care for, who are right before us?”

Are you planning to bring “Put It On Friend Mode” to greater heights? 

We will continue to engage with those who are with us on our Facebook page for 2014. We hope to see “Friend Mode Day” become an annual affair. 

Check out their Facebook page to find out more about the initiative.