Social media. Most of us do it. It sits right there in our pocket, periodically beeping away, notifying us that something important is happening that needs our attention. Ignore that beep at your peril, I mean you may be missing out on something so life-changingly important that if you don’t open the app to check IMMEDIATELY you may regret it forever. So that’s the decision. You interrupt the conversation you were having with your gran to peek a sly look at your phone. By the time you’ve opened the notification to find a lovely picture of your next door neighbours Coq au Vin rearranged haphazardly on a chipped wedgewood plate your gran has flounced off in a strop calling you an ignoramous, amongst other less polite but equally accurate things. You end up promising to take her out for lunch by way of an apology where you promise not to be distracted by your phone. The whole thing turns into an expensive exercise. And the coq au vin looked like a pile of shit anyway.
It’s a familiar scenario. Social media interrupts conversations. Hell, it interrupts relationships full stop. Eye contact is becoming a thing of the past, attention spans are down to nanoseconds. Prince Ea has put together this amazing video which encompasses what a thin sheet of ice we are all sliding around on in an attempt to be ‘sociable’. I think he has hit the nail so squarely on the head that it would be difficult to argue with most of the points he makes.
The really huge irony is that most people who have watched that video will have watched it on a phone or a tablet, probably whilst there were other people in the room, possibly even whilst someone was speaking to them. The really disturbing thing is that it has become acceptable. People watch movies while scrolling through their phone. They eat their meals with their tablet alongside their plate on the table. Children are accustomed to having only half their parents attention, if any at all.
I am equally guilty of this, I’d be one hell of a hypocrite if I claimed that I wasn’t. So I make a concerted effort to curb the use of my device when I am not alone. The challenge I encounter when in a social situation is that if I hide my phone away from myself, I am the only one who does. So I often end up sitting talking to myself while everyone else just carries on scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. It is an epidemic and we are all in the grip of it. And short of disabling the internet I can’t see how it can be treated.
And as for the chance of establishing any kind of exclusive device free romantic relationships these days? Well I think the wonderfully perceptive Banksy had already predicted the future.