It may or may not be a secret that I’m a fan of social commentaries. If something is wrong, I either want to see someone else address it, or I will take that role in whatever way I can. Banksy regularly takes on this role.
I can spend hours looking through collections of his art. In fact, I have done that exact thing, though the intention was just to look for a few minutes. And there are a lot of pieces that I want to write about, because they are all so damn powerful and to the point.
The one I found most recently is titled “Mobile Lovers,” and it connects to something I have thought about for quite a while. Long before I traded in my smartphone for a flip phone, actually.
And because I found a Creative Commons photograph of it, here it is:
So, there is a lot packed into this art.
Our intimacy with people is waning. And our connection–ahem, addiction– to technology is taking over. Special moments, sharing a closeness with another human, that is taking a back seat to checking news feeds and social media feeds and emails and the latest trends and if someone texted back and…
It’s mind boggling.
Don’t get me wrong. I think inventing smartphones has helped a lot of businesses. They have helped a lot of people get help and access when they need either. They’ve even made community building easier, in some instances.
But they’re not nearly as necessary as we make them out to be.
Sharing a moment with someone, holding them in our arms, whether it dancing, cuddling, or simply being, it’s not as important as it used to be. There are easy distractions from the important things. Things that keep us human. Those connections to a loved one. Sensing whatever is around us. Using our sight, smell, touch, hearing, and even taste, it’s all being limited down to whatever one gets stimuli first, and nothing else.
Usually that stimuli is a glowing screen. All else fades.
Side note, I attend a university. And I find it amazing how, waiting for a class to begin (either in the room itself or outside, waiting for another class to end and leave), there may be a single couple, maybe two if it’s a good day, talking with each other. The rest of the patient folk have their necks at about a 55-degree-angle, one arm, bent at the elbow, holding their phone, and a single thumb just brushing up the screen. There may be 30 other students waiting within a 20-foot space, but if Lady Luck is present, only four people talking to each other.
I don’t condone senseless talking, latest trends, gossip, all that trash. Talking just to fill the sound-void is just as bad as being disconnected from humanity.
Increasingly, we’re more connected to people farther away, through objects that can’t even feel, than we are to people standing in the same vicinity.
This isn’t to say that we should all open up to strangers. I don’t want these folks knowing my deepest and darkest, but try starting up a conversation, and you get a look of “excuse me, I’m busy.” Talking with someone, learning their name, their hobbies, and their passions, it feels so much better than clicking on a screen, wasting time and potential opportunities.
Try going somewhere that exhibits natural beauty–the woods, the beach at sunrise, to an island–and looking around. People are going to be taking pictures instead of enjoying the moment. Maybe they are sharing them with others that couldn’t join. Maybe they are selling the pictures to dreamers, folks that may go there when they have the money, the vacation time, or the freedom.
Here’s my call to you. Spend a single day, out in public, with your phone off. It doesn’t have to be today or tomorrow, because I realize that you may get busy with work or some have others relying on you. If you’re a parent, you want to be sure that your child is safe. If you’re a caregiver, make sure your person (or animal) is looked after.
Do this when you know it won’t endanger someone.
Do this, and look around. Spend time observing those who stand, walk, shop, and live around you. Really look at people, and try to find the humanity. It’s slowly fading through their finger tips. Don’t let yours fade.