The Surprising Social Event Where Introverts Thrive? Phone-Free Parties

Photo: Getty Images/jacoblund
My raven-haired, rock-goddess friend is highly social and keeps her social media thoroughly documented with glittering adventures. So I was gobsmacked when her most recent birthday party invite involved a no-phones policy, like some sort of Kardashian wedding.

"So tomorrow everyone has to put their phones in a box upon entry," she texted. "And I'm bringing art supplies and everyone can draw their memories." I read the text again, then a third time, then read over the text that said she was setting up a tip jar for phone check. No phones? No social media? Tip jar? As the consummate introvert, this had real nightmare potential.

Listen, I get the need for a digital detox, but the last time I went to a party sans phone was my 6th grade graduation dance. I wore a heinous Starburst-colored lace shirt, harbored crushes on anime characters, and rocked a deeply unfortunate frizzled bob cut. I was peak cringeworthy in a way that even the writers of Pen15 couldn't dream up. All of that combined with my crippling social anxiety made me feel #blessed when the dawn of cell phones gave me a shield to hide behind at any all social gatherings. So why go back now to the dark ages now?

Well, the no-phones birthday party turned out to be one of the most introvert-friendly gatherings I've been to in a while. Allow me to paint you a picture of all the reasons why (rather than a picture of my memories—that didn't turn out so hot).

Check out why a party policy of "no cell phones allowed" is a great one for introverts.

1. Eating food is more fun than Instagramming it

Now that I wasn't documenting it, I could focus on mindfully nibbling the sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, cheese cubes, and spiced jams (arranged beautifully, begging to be Instagrammed) while our hostess described her plattering method. And you know what? Everything tasted better.

2. Creating art is more fulfilling than creating content

It's no secret that social media is highly performative. You know the quickest way to make something fun way less fun? Feeling an obligation to share it with the world. Following the birthday girl's wishes and "drawing my memories" was not only stress-relieving, but also freeing because for once, I was focusing creatively on something that wasn't coming up with an effortless-but-fun caption.

(As previously noted, the piece is not good. But it's about the journey, not the destination, right?)

3. No phone? No problem when it comes to wallflowering

Candidly, not having a phone did lead me to cling to a fellow introvert. In this case, my boyfriend was the lucky winner, who kept me company at the sparsely populated ends of the gathering. When the party would get rowdy in the center of the room, he would ask if I wanted to join them. And I would answer—not with disgust, but pleasant certainty—"No, I'm good here for now." And by "for now," I meant most of the time. But that was fine; even as a wallflower, I was still present in the room, which I preferred to watching the movie version of someone else's night unfold on social media.

4. Hello, present and attentive party guests

With the absence of everyone staring at their blue-light illuminated crotch, there were more opportunities to engage with friends in a meaningful way. More people were down for silly games like "Who would play you in a movie?" or "What kind of beverage would you be?" When you can't simply just Google things to come up with a quick answer, you're forced to use your brainpower for something kind of funny. And this stuff lends itself well to making memories.

5. A party I don't want to leave early? It's a whole new world.

I'm at this party, enjoying a colorful spread of food and striking a good balance of people-watching and engaging with people. AND there are gel pens. Generally it's a miracle when I don't bounce from a party after an hour. But when my S.O. checked in periodically to see if I wanted to bail, there was that line again, "No, I'm good here for now." And it seemed like everyone else was, too, given that the party raged long after we left at 12:30 a.m.

I don't know if I would do every party as a no-phones party because then I'd have a way harder time rationalizing new outfits. Still, it's good to know that people can have fun without posting about it. And I no longer need to hide behind a screen to get through a social event.

Another introvert life hack? Try taking a reading break at your next party. And if you're thinking of ditching the wedding hashtag, here's how to throw your own unplugged wedding

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