Look Up: Phone Culture

Look Up: How Smartphone Addiction is Destroying Everything

Everywhere you go, it’s the same thing. It doesn’t matter the country. It doesn’t matter the city, or even the time of day. It could be sunny, rainy, cloudy, hold or cold. There is a commonality that prevails through all cultures across all the lands. It’s a relatively new phenomenon, bred in the age of advanced microchips and fast processors. It’s one that is sucking everyone in and not letting go. It’s called smartphone addiction and it’s destroying everything.

Living in a major city, I’m able to observe this phenomena daily. Everyone around me, head down, staring into their phone. To find someone without a phone in their hand is like seeing a shooting star; it’s rare and it’s fleeting. This ultimate distraction has overwhelmed society, people are no longer present in the “here and now,” preferring to swipe and click away into the plastic abyss of a smartphone.

Observing someone frantically clicking around on their phone is one of the most nerve-wracking things imaginable. Many times I have been stuck behind someone on a train or a bus, watching them navigate through their apps like a Formula 1 driver. Not a second can be spared, not a moment of inactivity allowed. No room for thought or reflection. Just PHONE. A sequence might go like this:

Send 2-3 text messages……pop into Instagram while waiting for texts…mindlessly click the red heart on every other photo, without any sort of emotional reaction whatsoever……clean out the unviewed Instagram stories….pop back into messenger to send more texts…pop out to Facebook to scroll around a bit…back in for some more messages….jump into Snap Chat to view more stories….rinse, wash repeat.

Just typing that gave me anxiety. Yet it’s the typically behavior of so so many people nowadays, especially women. Day in and day out, hour after hour. Social media is an electronic drug; begging to be opened and consumed 24/7. Every time you enter, there is another dopamine hit waiting for you. Never has it been easier to instantly validate oneself than through social media. I rarely see phones used for much else; if it’s not social media, it’s Netflix or phone games or other sorts of videos. The same common theme; mindless and time-wasting.

Random conversations are a thing of the past. Take a train or a bus and you might see one out of 50 people with an actual physical book. It’s a toxic culture that has no end in sight. Randomness has been all but extinguished – talk to someone looking down at their phone and they will look at you like you just insulted them. Everyone wishes to be left alone, headphones in, scrolling and clicking and liking.

What’s the solution to such a universal issue? To me, it seems bleak. Tech and media companies have become so good at harvesting our time, that I can’t see any immediate solution to the smartphone addiction culture. It’s created mass stress and anxiety for so many people. Every time someone picks up their phone and checks out their apps, there is a tug at their souls: Look better! Be smarter! Be richer!

We are in so deep, yet we don’t even know it. Smartphone addiction spills out into so many other areas of our lives. We have ZERO attention span. Our realrelationships are superficial at best, nonexistent at worse. We need CONSTANT entertainment – solitude and inaction are appalling to us.

We need multiple sources of entertainment all at once….

Can’t watch a TV show without having our phones nearby…

Can’t have a conversation without checking who just sent us a text…

Can’t walk the dog without bringing our phones with us…

Can’t DRIVE somewhere without sending and checking messages…

Can’t go to an event without filming it and showing it to all our friends for validation…

I want to be optimistic, but it’s so hard to be so. Young, personable men and women are simply consumed with their phones and everything on it – everything but the physical here and now.

Women will complain they are single because “all guys suck,” yet 85% of the girls I see have their head down looking at their phone. No chance for random encounters. No interest in being bothered. The man they complain about not existing? He walks by every day (probably also looking at his phone), but they don’t so much as catch a glimpse of each other; an opportunity forever lost and forever gone.

We must collectively work against this horrible new trend. Smartphone addiction is no joke, and it affects us all. We must take our time back, work on our relationships; both old and new alike. Re-learn how to be sociable! Grab a book, leave your phone at home. Break lose of these rotten habits and work to reconnect with yourself, with others, with nature. So many opportunities are presented to us every single day. Let’s stop missing out. Let’s put the phones away, even if we start slow, and let’s live in the physical present, enjoying everything life has to offer.

Screenshot 2015-11-21 at 12.56.17 PM

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