This photography project made me sad and terrified at the same time. Sad because smartphones are making us increasingly antisocial. Terrified that we are turning into digital zombies.
REMOVED, the project by an American photographer Eric Pickersgill, shows our growing addiction to modern technology, social media, and hyper-connectivity. The photographer took photos of people in everyday situations and then photoshopped their devices out in each shot. The results are surreal and a bit disturbing.
Eric was inspired to start this project by an encounter in a NY cafe, as described by him:
“Family sitting next to me at Illium café in Troy, NY is so disconnected from one another. Not much talking. Father and two daughters have their phones out. Mom doesn’t have one or chooses to leave it put away. She stares out the window, sad and alone in the company of her closest family. Dad looks up every so often to announce some obscure piece of info he found online.”
I witness scenes like this quite frequently these days. A small sample of the Eric's work below. I dare say most of us find them familiar too...
Smartphone addiction is becoming a real thing. I've become more aware of it since becoming a mum. I worry about my daughter's future, the impact of screen exposure on her life, education, social skills, connecting with nature. I worry about myself succumbing to my own smartphone addiction and missing out on my daughter being a delight while I'm staring at my iPhone.
So put your device away. Turn off your notifications. Get it out of your bedroom. Get an alarm clock. Look up.
But smartphones have also changed us – changed our natures in elemental ways, reshaping the way we think and interact. ... The evidence for this goes beyond the carping of Luddites. It's there, cold and hard, in a growing body of research by psychiatrists, neuroscientists, marketers and public health experts. What these people say – and what their research shows – is that smartphones are causing real damage to our minds and relationships, measurable in seconds shaved off the average attention span, reduced brain power, declines in work-life balance and hours less of family time. They have impaired our ability to remember. They make it more difficult to daydream and think creatively. They make us more vulnerable to anxiety. They make parents ignore their children. And they are addictive, if not in the contested clinical sense then for all intents and purposes.