First: here’s a little game to play with your friends while out for lunch. Place your phones face down on the table, you can do this in the traditional stack or place it right next to you if you’re feeling dangerous. The aim? Don’t touch or look at your phone. A simple instruction, but not so easy to follow through. As notifications start to go off and phones start buzzing the temptation to check can get too overwhelming. But it’s best to press on, let your thumbs twitch and ignore that hole in your heart where your phone used to be, because there’s a catch. If anyone is to touch a phone they must pay for the entire meal. If more than one person breaks the golden rule, the bill is split between the losers. But if all succeed, then everyone pays for their own meal and leaves with a wonderful memory of a pleasant night.
I discovered this game somewhere on the internet while I was deep in boredom and I have used it multiple times, with much success. The purpose of the game is to encourage uninterrupted conversation with friends and family while enjoying a meal; like it used to be. I liked the idea of this game because I had many a time looked up while at a social event and found everyone entranced by one screen or another. Sometimes, it can make me quite sad because I think, we could have stayed home and done the same thing.
The thing is now, with all of our smart phones, we are more and more connected to the media wherever we are. Media no longer belongs to specific place, it is everywhere. This lack of separation between certain spaces and media can change the way we think media is affecting us. Right now, there is a moral panic that we are becoming consumed by our smart phones and can no longer experience the “real” world.
I don’t agree with that fully. I believe that we are becoming a generation of multi-taskers. There’s a fear that we are all becoming so engrossed in our tiny-screen worlds that we aren’t living in the real world. I, for one, am glued to my iPhone a lot of the time, but that doesn’t mean I can’t observe my surroundings, have a good laugh with my friends or concentrate in class.
A Smartphone Addiction blogpost by Psychology Today states that “41% of Britons feel anxious and not in control when detached from their smartphone” and suggests that the smart phone may be a new addiction. Here, in another blog about the effects of smart phones on social interaction, the writer states that “Smart phones are addictive devices that can compromise the interactions between individual friends and corporate executives.” These are just two of many resources showing the moral panics of smart phones. Without boundaries determining where and when we can use them, society has become frightened that we are emotionally dependent on our phones and because of this we are ruining our relationships through lack of interaction.
What I’m curious to explore is whether we are emotionally dependent on our phones or on the social connections it enables us to make. This is a video made in 2010, with a whole load of stats on social media usage and how we are connecting more and more with each other through the use of these sights. From where I’m standing, it seems that smart phones are doing the opposite of disconnecting us.