Smartphones. What have we done to ourselves?

Hello Monday morning. This is a strange article for me, because it actually criticises the very thing I love and write about on a daily basis.

The other day I was in Pizza Hut. Classy huh? I spotted two people come in and they sat directly in my eye-line. They came in, sat down and started fiddling with their phones.


It’s something I’ve seen a lot recently because I’ve been in a lot of restaurants whilst on holiday. People use their phones whilst waiting for food, or whilst waiting for the waiter. It’s a scene you may have witnessed in many places, many times. However, as I’ve been out quite a bit it’s something that I’ve become more aware of recently. Even people who are out on a special date, in a posh restaurant, they’ll be using their phones quite heavily.

Sure, initially it’s looking at pictures and laughing at videos. Many people do this. It’s perfectly fine and many people use it as a conversation piece or it’ll enhance the proceedings somehow.

However, at Pizza Hut, and at a few other places, I noticed something happening. An escapism. A “zone out” moment. It was these two people who were the most noticeable example. They came in, sat down and both started playing with their phones. I’m not sure what handsets they were exactly, but they said nothing from the moment they entered, apart from a passing comment to the waitress.

I presumed they’d had an argument, but after choosing their food and the pizza arriving they both put down their phones and started chatting away.

However, it had been 30 minutes at least since they walked in, and not one word said between them. Not a smile, not a look, just a long stare at their phones.

Smartphones. What have we done to ourselves?

I was in Florida at the time, but I’ve seen the same thing happening back in the UK too. In Florida you’ll find Disney World, and there I witnessed many people walking around with back-packs. They had the essentials. Water, a mini-fan and … an iPad. To be honest I’m used to seeing iPads appearing in a great deal of places, but when you’re in 35 degree heat, a chunky iPad isn’t the easiest thing to carry around when you’re in your shorts. Many were using them to film and, because the park had free WiFi everywhere, I saw people browsing in the queues too.

I shouldn’t just single out iPads though. All manner of handsets were used in the queues. Part of me thinks that this is actually a good idea. It sucks up that “down time” as you wait the hour or more to get on a ride. However, I also saw the bad side.

Kids.

For parents in queues, they were occupied, browsing the web and checking email. The kids were bored though, and some parents weren’t interacting because they already had something to do, even if that “something” really wasn’t important at all.

Oh, and something else..

Facebook.

What got me about this was that, whilst watching Mickey and his friends performing a parade, people were immediately uploading shots to Facebook. I mean within seconds.

“There’s Mickey”

*Snap*

*Upload*

People were so keen to show others where they were that they’d add a message and ensure that the shot went online immediately. This confused me too. Never mind the rest of the parade. Never mind the children with wonder in their eyes, get that picture of Mickey Mouse on Facebook, because you want your friends to be jealous.

Perhaps I’m getting old. Perhaps I’ve just seen a bad snapshot of people. I know not everyone does this, but I’ll admit to doing it myself. I’ll admit to fiddling with my phone whilst waiting for my wife to come out of the shop. I should be talking to my son in the back seat, and I have to tell myself off for that. I have to try and change my behaviour.

Smartphones, iPads, tablets, even the odd Nintendo DS. They take us somewhere else. To a world of email, to a world where our friends show us their pictures or let us know how great their lives are. We read Twitter, we check the news, we text others and we browse the web. Sometimes though, we forget what’s important. We stop talking to the ones that matter the most.

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