Just how addicted are we to our phones? A new photo series by Eric Pickersgill takes every day images and removes the cell phones present to make our attachment to those little devices frighteningly apparent. In settings ranging from a couple in bed to strangers sitting on a street corner to a family sitting at the kitchen table, the omnipresence of our mobile devices is very clear to see. Seeing those photos gives you one of those striking feelings when you know you’re doing something wrong but being caught actually doing it makes you feel really guilty. If you saw two strangers on a sidewalk both looking at their phones you wouldn’t think twice of it. But put that scene in a black and white filter and remove the phones and suddenly the scene becomes quite eerie.
As sad as it may be, we have arrived at a time when staring at your phone is more normal than being an actually present, undistracted human being. Even though we know that we shouldn’t be using our phones while sitting with friends or at dinner with family, the behavior continues and we accept it for what it is. Just last week I was sitting at my Edmonds common room table eating dinner when my roommate sitting across from me asked if I was okay.
Am I okay? What do you mean? And then I realized. I was sitting across from her eating my dinner without a phone or laptop or iPad or anything in front of me. In her mind, I must have been in a really profound state of mind to just be sitting and eating without technology. I suppose it could have been an odd sight but in reality I was just exhausted from the day and was mentally checked out while eating dinner.
As a disclaimer I too am stuck to my phone screen way more often than I’d like to be… but I do try to make an effort to put my phone down when I realize I’m only using it as a social guard. Nowadays it seems like if you’re going to go anywhere in public without a friend, your phone will be your number one companion. Even simple tasks like walking from Stokes to Fulton becomes a runway for you to strut across the quad with a phone in hand. We’ve all been in those uncomfortable situations when you need your phone for comfort; you see someone you don’t want to see, you immediately grab that handy dandy cell phone out of your pocket and start scrolling down that Instagram feed you’re not even really looking at.
But on the other hand, what about when you’re mindlessly scrolling through those Instagram posts (shout out fall foliage gassongrams) and you miss one of your best friends waving at you across the quad? Realistically, none of us have anyone on campus we really need to be hiding from. Yet still we find ourselves succumbing to that automatic instinct to be disengaged and stare at a screen. Instead we could be waving back to that friend trying to get your attention or chatting with the freshman year professor you bumped into, or even just appreciating the beautiful sunset right in front of your eyes.
I know it’s hard to not refresh Insta every 27 seconds or watch every Snapchat story out there but hopefully we can at least try. Being more present in our every day lives, making eye contact, saying hi to people… it all really isn’t that bad and sometimes you actually get something out of it! Who knows, maybe you’ll trip on one less stair a year when you can actually see it in front of you.