Distracted by Tech: the Phonies

So I’ve recently realised some people are much less sociable in group situations than they surely were when phones weren’t quite so versatile. These people, I like to call ‘Phonies’, are constantly sidetracked by their phones; the temptations and draws of social media and nifty, ‘time-saving’, trending, gadget-like apps. Constantly engaging with dozens of little ‘helpful’ apps can save seconds and make a day run smoothly, but they come at a cost to friendly interaction. Often Phonies don’t listen to your story, thoughts or questions, they just vacantly stare at their screens instead. In extreme circumstances Phonies appear to distance themselves from the group at times by busily checking what people are tweeting about or what they’ve got up to and posted on facebook or instagram. I say it’s simply not worth it. We desperately need to be able to separate our time spent engaged with our phones and time spent fully engaged with our friends! Otherwise we’ll just continue this demise and eventually won’t be bothering to talk much at all. And it’s infuriating and boring to be around friends who are full or part-time Phonies.

I would almost go so-far as to say that I’m offended that a shiny LED screen can sway someone’s attention from talking to me. And unfortunately the rise of Phonies has the potential to spiral out of control, especially as phone use can be contagious. One person engages with their phone and others get bored/offended/jealous and soon immerse themselves in their own tech, leading to conversational inertia. And the young may be at greatest risk due to their high exposure to tablets and games at home (see this worrying article), resulting in the incomplete development of their basic abilities to socialise, befriend and network. Result: a world full of Phonies, like the two depicted below in a new piece by Banksy called “Mobile Lovers”.20140420-221508.jpg

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2 thoughts on “Distracted by Tech: the Phonies

  1. We’re beginning to realize that addictive behavior is part of this, because the “asynchronous reward” aspect (“you’ve got mail!”) is very much like what gamblers get. It’s not a chemical addiction in the usual sense (although the dopamine system is involved), but a behavioral one.

    And the addiction can be deadly. In the USA, nine people per day are killed (and many others injured) due to “distracted driving,” a large part of which is use of mobile devices. Even pedestrians have been hit by vehicles due to being so head down in their eLeash.

    I have a theory that small keyboards and screens, plus texting, tweeting, and even the brief kind of commenting most people do, is destroying our ability to communicate, and hence, our ability to even think.

    I have a rule when out in the real world with friends: Turn your damn eLeash off and put it away or I will leave.

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