I’m sick of being told to look up from my phone. I’m tired of social media posts mocking a supposed addiction to technology (shared without a hint of irony). The apps on my phone help me to be *more* social, writes Deirdre Fidge.
Life is what happens to you while you’re looking at your smartphone … or so says the graphic image that we see shared around Instagram, without a hint of self-awareness or irony.
“We share the best bits [online], but leave out the emotion,” the narrator of the incredibly popular Look Up short film tells us.
“We edit and exaggerate, crave adulation / we pretend not to notice the social isolation.”
Yes, I’m deeply sorry to say that the entire clip is a long poem; essentially a nightmarish first year Arts student’s idea of a social experiment-cum-creative non-fiction piece.
‘Look Up’ short film. Post continues below.
This smug young man rhymes his way through telling us why phones are evil; how we are losing friends and feeling lonely. But are we all feeling this? Or is it just him, a pompous Dr Seuss for Millennials, and could it be because he spends all his time making arrogant videos for YouTube and shopping for boring sweaters? (Sorry – that was mean, I for one am a keen appreciator of a fine-knit woollen jumper.)
To be frank, I’m sick of being told to put down my phone. I’m tired of photo series that depict our alleged addiction to technology. I’m bored with people telling me that every time I use my mobile, I’m disconnecting with the world.
Recently, my Facebook feed was flooded with a photo taken back in 2014 at an art gallery of teenagers visiting a show featuring prominent works by Rembrandt. The post criticises the young people for focusing on their phones.
If there’s anything social media loves it’s a bloody good outrage, and let me tell you, some people really enjoyed lambasting these young people on that post for having the audacity to use their phones while at a gallery.
“Back in my day…” shouts the Baby Boomer, but we can’t hear him over the sound of his negative gearing profits.
How dare the youth enjoy a new game, or want to connect with a friend! How dare that person take a photo of themselves instead of hiding in shame and disgust at their own appearance! How dare people enjoy their lives in a way that is different to mine!
The truth is, this particular museum – the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam – has incredibly detailed multimedia tours, which require the downloading of an app to one’s phone. These teenagers were most likely using the app to plan their trip around the gallery, or to hear audio information about the pieces they are viewing.
But that doesn’t make for such an interesting story, does it? “Technology improves gallery experience and increases interaction with art.”
No, let’s go with: “Stupid teens play games on their iPhones because they hate culture.” There, that’s better.
It is argued that being on our phones is inherently anti-social; that we have created a generation of narcissistic, selfie-taking millennials who can’t put down their forks without tweeting about tonight’s dinner.