Discussion of how technology diminishes social interaction skills has persisted since these devices were invented. Though there have been many scientific studies regarding the isolation that cellphones create, artistic expression of this subject is what I find most stimulating. Every now and then, I see something creative usually on Facebook that truly captures the way society has become attached to their handheld devices particularly.
A photographer Erik Pickersgill puts a unique twist on this topic in his photo series, “Removed” by actually removing the presence of cell phones. In this series, the people are just staring at their hands, which are in the shape that you would hold a handheld device. There are various situations represented in these scenes such as romantic intimacy, barbecuing and business ventures to show the wide variety of social settings impacted by use of electronics. When the phones aren’t present, the subjects, frankly, look very peculiar and quite insane, actually. It appears that they don’t know what to do with themselves. They seem anti-social and lost.
This tactful editing perceptively pushes us to take a step back and look at ourselves. In these pictures, phones aren’t present, yet the people are still ignoring the love of their significant other or their family member. They are missing opportunities to converse and interact because they are staring at their hands. Hands that could implicate the choices we make in how we use cell phones. Their action is causing the social disconnection that prevents them from fostering relationships.
A video in the form of spoken word called, “Can We Auto-Correct Humanity” also embodied the depletion of social interactions as well as attention span reduction, isolation, and the “pageantry of vanity.” The video began by saying that on average, people spend four years of their lives staring down at their phone. There was no scientific backing of this, however, would you be surprised by this? Think of how much time we spend on our cell phones each day. It certainly adds up!
The video also urges the idea of taking responsibility for choosing to use technology in this way. The speaker recognizes that they also participate in this anti-social phenomenon as well and displays one example where they had difficulty taking the time to formulate a genuine conversation that wasn’t reduced to abbreviations. Technology is made to go faster and faster and that has translated to the lack of patience we have in social interactions and other areas of our lives.
As with this video, there tends to be commentators on these artistic statements who claim epiphanies and pledge to change their distracted, anti-social ways. People that renounced cell phones. However, these art forms act as social commentaries- something to consider and reflect upon how it relates to your life. Does it mean you should stop using technology? No, it’s not inherently bad. It certainly has its benefits, but as with everything, it is good in moderation. The device in and of itself does not prevent people from having genuine relationships, its impact on you is dependent on the way you use it.