There was that defining moment in London Bridge tube station where I came to the final conclusion that we’ve become people who lead lives weaved around our phones, Apps and social media.
Interestingly enough, this conclusion came by watching two twenty-something girls larking around on the Southbound platform of the Northern Line.
Both dressed in their obligatory Superdry ensemble, they took snaps of each other on their Smartphones and when one of the girls came to sit next to me on the bench, I noticed how she immediately started ‘photoshopping’ one of her pictures. The other girl, put her phone back in her bag and burst out in an impromptu session of playing the air guitar.
“What are you doing, you nutter?”, the photoshopping girl asked. She looked perplexed.
The other girl stopped her Not So Wild Rocker impersonation and said calmly: “I’m creating a Facebook update”.
“What do you mean?”
The other girl took her phone out of her bag again and didn’t say anything whilst punching in letters on her screen. She then handed the phone over to her friend.
“You are totally mad! You’ve just done some rocking on the platform so you can write it on your wall?”
“Yeah – and?”
Well I was taken aback too. I had just witnessed this remarkable scene with gaping mouth. Some girl had done a quirky thing on purpose, with the eye on an instant post on her Facebook.
A set-up to entertain her followers sitting in her handbag. Her life, clearly evolving around her phone and social media. It was a premeditated status update.
Of course, I had already established before that particular moment in London Bridge, that most of us seem to covet a particular close relationship with our phones. Especially in the last three, four years since Smartphones boomed and everyone started building themselves, a ‘window to their life’ through the many social platforms up for selection. In fact, that close relationship has become an extra special one.
As, where our mobile phone was once a tool to call, text and calculate, it now has become the equivalent of a modern age Swiss knife – with a parallel world attached to it. It is therefore fair to say that the possibilities of the modern day mobile phone have excelled our wildest imaginations (who would have thought hey?) – and don’t most of us exploit it to ridiculous extent?
Look around you on a busy street and what do you see?
Aside from the usual standards, you will see people with their phones out.
Most of them will zip like well dressed robots through the street whilst peering at their screen. They may be verifying the route to take or check their emails yet quite a few though will be in the process of updating their Twitter, Facebook and the likes.
Let me tell you, to me, these people are a bloody pain as I am always jumping out of the way for them.
Completely oblivious to their surrounding they are and always appear to move upon a wonky track. You can recognise them from the back by their zigzagging and slower pace, their necks stretched to allow their chin to rest on their collar bone. It’s a shame they no longer wish to participate in ordinary city life but I guess, it is more important to think of a funky hashtag with the eye on setting the tone for the latest trending in Twitter town.
When I see them crossing a road whilst still staring at their phone, I can’t help but mumble: bloody idiots.
When you go past a bus stop these days, you will most probably see a crowd of people and almost all of them will have their heads bowed by default – focussing on their phone. These people will then get on that bus, swipe their Oyster card with one hand and with the other firmly clutching their phone, they’ll manage to press re-fresh in order to verify how many more ‘likes’ they’ve accumulated since they’ve updated their wall five minutes ago.
Obviously we see them everywhere, the people who are looking down rather than up. For, how much is the number increasing of couples sitting face to face in a cosy restaurant, their eyes fixed on the object of their desire yet it is not the person in front of them they’re concentrating on, it is their phone? Sometimes you see them laughing hysterically – usually it is because they’ve seen a funny Lolcatz appear in their news feed or are following a hilarious trend.
It just seems to be a true modern day sight.
It did go all so quickly though. I can remember the initial flush of love I felt when I got my first Smartphone. All of a sudden, there was no need any more for me to switch on my laptop as I now had the world in my hand. Everything seemed possible, I was forever connected, life was so much more appealing this way. Yet like with a lot of extreme passionate relationships, the rot sets in very quickly. Oh, I am still happy with my phone and I am absolutely not considering divorcing it. I however realise how much society has changed because of it – and it’s not for the better.
Why is it that so many of us have become totally obsessed by our mobile? How did we become these addicts who are always doing something on our phones but rarely use it to call any more? And, have we really forgotten what life was pre-Smartphone?
These days, I don’t see many people reading a paper or book on the tube. Instead, I watch them flicking coloured balls or fat chickens over their screen. Others are forever trying to pick up the WiFi at each station where they get about thirty seconds to go on-line The urge to drop a witty anecdote on-line is so big, you see them licking their lips as stress mode sets in when the WiFi cannot be picked up at a particular tube stop.
That ‘special’ relationship we have with it, has become too intense. So much even, I am surprised to see that we don’t yet buy our mobile, flowers and lingerie for Valentine’s Day. Our phones are after all the thing we fondle the most. We eat with it, sleep with it, hell we even take it with us to the bathroom.
My husband is always surprised to see me going to the loo to then read an update on my Facebook wall whilst he is waiting for me. That is another thing by the way: waiting time.
It seems to be almost unimaginable these days to wait for someone – just wait whilst doing nothing. No, we must take out that phone as soon as the other person leaves us for even a few minutes. There are far too many things to check out on-line to waste such precious time by doing nothing.
The option we now have to always be connected, wherever we are, has split the phone obsessed people in two different groups: the exhibitionists and the voyeurs. As, have you not noticed how some people never post anything on-line but always appear to be fully informed on others’ whereabouts? They are the ‘scrollers’ who hoover the lives up of others without giving anything back in return. Then there are the exhibitionists, who love nothing more than playing gallery with their lives and beside the jolly holiday snaps and quirky updates, you also get to know about the instant they are pouring themselves a beer. Re-fresh your phone whilst cooking a mean chill con carne and you’ll read the newest post: ‘Mmmm.. good beer’.
We may get irritated by such inane comments or laugh and get ourselves a beer too, we nevertheless keep checking and reacting by swiping our screen vigorously in any sort of environment. We know most of the content is rubbish and we realise the silly games we play won’t increase our conjunctive thinking power but, addicts as we are, we just can’t stop ourselves.
Yes, we’ve all changed so much but there are some good things about all this too. Having the internet in my pocket has saved the day on many occasions. Whether it was when I got lost in Manila or when we had a power cut at work and needed to ‘Google’ telephone numbers to inform our clients we were going home, or even better, when I saw a pair of pretty shoes in a shop and immediately checked their competitor’s website to see that they were offering the same for £25 less. I walked out of that shop, straight into the other to buy them – and thanked my phone.
The downside however is that we no longer appear to be people who connect with each other in real life. We seem more bothered about the constant stimulation we require through our phone and we appear to care less about the quality of it all. That makes me wonder what the future will bring if we allow ourselves to continuously sink into the parallel world we built inside our phones rather than focussing on the reality around us?
Is there a chance that the future generation will become a social awkward lot as a result of our obsession?
Then again, they will probably have enough Apps to entertain them for a lifetime.
Despite the fact that I do not like to be surrounded by people with their heads bowed nor do I enjoy seeing them loving their mobile more than their supposed beloved, I nevertheless agree that today’s phone is undoubtedly, a damn, fine thing. And let’s not forget, beside all modern age options they offer such as socialising on-line flicking coloured balls over your screen and being able to ‘Photoshop’ yourself to the extent of being unrecognisable, they allow you to do these incredible things too, like; call, text or calculate.
If only we could refrain ourselves of all this lovemaking in public.