The rise of social media has allowed individuals to stay in touch with more people than has ever been possible. Facebook gives us the opportunity to converse with (and often benchmark ourselves against) those who we went to school with, Twitter seems to forge a stronger bond between celebrities and the general public and the likes of Tumblr, WordPress and Blogspot allows creative individuals a plethora of opportunities to share their art. Accessing all of this information during one’s personal internet time can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, but the problem is that suddenly personal internet time is becoming the majority of peoples’ time. And what is the catalyst of this problem? The bloody smart phone.
On several occasions over the past couple of months I’ve been deep in conversation with a non pixel-based human being, when suddenly my flow has been rudely interrupted by the sound of a vibration and the consequent brandishing of a small life support machine that my fellow conversationalist has had to seemingly plug themselves into for fear of missing the next iteration of their respiratory cycle. It isn’t just in normal conversation either. There have been times that I’ve been out to dinner with people and my fellow diners have had their heads buried in their phones, clearly more interested in what their former school friends, to whom they still haven’t spoken to for years, had for dinner, rather than enjoying the prospect of selecting their own with their supposed friends.
I find the irony to be astounding. Here is a device that enables us more contact with our friends, from past and present walks of lives, through electronic means, yet some users choose to ignore physical, real-time conversations with their friends in present company in order to do so. I would hardly find it acceptable to be invited round to a friend’s house for dinner and spend the majority of the evening hanging over the garden fence talking to the neighbours about current affairs, rather than spending the time with my friend. If my friend wanted the neighbours to be include in the evening, they would have invited them.
I’d like to encourage people, when in the presence of friends, refrain from satisfying the urge to dig into your pocket and slide your finger longingly over your beautiful glass screen and instead converse. Turn to the person stood right next to you trying to engage in friendly conversation and speak. To satisfy my science fiction orientated imagination, I may now hypothesise over a short story where the human race inevitably ends up mute (but with extremely nimble fingers) because in a future where everybody owns a smart phone, we’ve all forgotten how to bloody well talk to each other.