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Smartphones: The Most Antisocial Device Ever?

There is no doubt that the evolution of smartphones will go down in history as one of the most game changing technological advances of the past couple of decades but these multi-purpose little devices have also impacted on social interaction, in my opinion, detrimentally. When it comes to smartphones, the general rules of acceptable social behavior seem to have been thrown out the window.

Smartphone Zombies

smartphone zombies

One of my biggest gripes is with the people who walk along in public areas with their smartphone stuck in their face, not paying attention to who might be approaching from the opposite direction.

During my wife’s long battle with cancer I was forced to stay in the city of Brisbane for six months and the 15 minute walk between my rented apartment and the hospital was a continual nightmare of navigating around these ignorant people. It was particularly noticeable when entering or exiting the busy hospital lifts, dodging and ducking around people with their faces buried into their smartphones. This might be a simple maneuver for young fit individuals but for someone elderly, such as myself, and with chronic back and hip issues it was a painful experience. Thoughtless? Inconsiderate? I think so. This practice has now become so common that a phrase has even been coined to describe the people involved… smartphone zombies.

Loud Extended Conversations

loud public smartphone conversation

When in a public area — such as a restaurant, airport lounge, etc. — there always seems to be at least one individual who insists on carrying on a very loud and protracted telephone conversation right in the middle of everyone else. It’s as though they are showing off… look at me, I’ve got a smartphone and somebody actually wants to talk to me. Honestly, this is such an ignorant thing to do. When I find myself in the position of having to receive or make a phone call in a crowded area I will always move to an isolated spot where I am not disturbing others. Is that too much to ask?

Smartphones And Driving

smartphones and driving

We have very strict rules here (in Australia) governing the use of smartphones while driving. Essentially, regardless of circumstances, it is a no go, with heavy fines for anyone disobeying the law. Is this a deterrent? Not on your life! People texting while driving– how is that even possible? People talking on the phone while driving. We’ve even had cases here of people watching videos while driving. These sorts of instances are far too frequent and to think that these people are willing to risk other people’s lives as well as their own in this way is, in my opinion, total insanity.

Smartphones And Social Gatherings

group watching smartphones

Whenever members of my extended family get together for a meal at a restaurant or similar, the grandchildren, aged between 18- 27, spend the whole time when not eating playing with their smartphones. I witness these types of situations all the time with younger ones seemingly unable (or unwilling) to dismiss their smartphones even for a relatively short period of time to participate in conversation. Conversation? What’s that?

Manners, etiquette, social graces, call it what you will, when it comes to smartphones, none of this seems to apply. It is incongruous to me that a device used to enhance social media interaction can also be the cause of so much antisocial behavior.

The following is an extract from an article on the subject published by a leading Australian newspaper:

A team of cognitive anthropologists studying the ‘dysfunctional’ use of smart devices has found that our dependence on the technology likely stems from a desire to connect with other people.

Seriously!? Considering so many people these days are glued to their devices, seemingly more interested in looking down at a screen than interacting face-to-face, I would have thought quite the opposite. What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Smartphones: The Most Antisocial Device Ever?”

  1. Totally agree Jim. Truly sad this antisocial behaviour affects us all. Now with imposed learn from home as well as work from home rules, social distancing and keep within your bubble, people are going to forget about social contact. I also see this happening within my extended family of being together yet glued to screens. Luckily not for all, mostly the younger ones.

    Yet, I remember being asked to go into the other room, watch TV, so the adults could talk. What a cheap babysitter. Now parents give young ones tablets and cell phones as a way to pass the time. Little wonder they are growing up wrapped in this lifestyle.

    I try and limit my own exposure to computer screens, yet most information is so readily available online, it is difficult to resist. But I do so sitting down at home and not using smartphones, while walking, driving, or during gatherings. Yet, if I was born recently, would I be different years later, Mindblower!

  2. Who could disagree?

    But it’s worse than your description. You left out (I’m a geezer, too, so might have overlooked it) the pernicious effects of social media, easily accessed on smartphones. And pornography.

    We’ve made billionaires out of tech nerds and let them destroy our happiness. Future generations will ask: what were we thinking?

  3. Hi Jim,
    I agree wholeheartedly.
    Not much more to add to your great article, and other comments.
    Relating to anti-social un-smartphones use, the other annoyance is the misuse of sending
    messages, that is not texting, text is letters which create words and can not be an action.
    Regards,
    Jonno

  4. Fully agree with all that you said, but those things are addictive, and bad habits are easy to learn. As “middle-aged” parents, we’re not old enough to totally reject the new normal, and find ourselves adapting to a lot of the modern ways to conform with our children’s mode of operating.

    We think WhatsApp messages are silly as a means of communicating, but our children don’t phone us anymore. The youngest doesn’t answer his phone. He sends back a message answering what he thinks the question was going to be.

    Checking Status Updates seems stupid, but there’s a lot of information we miss if we don’t look there. The traditional announcements and other dispersals of information from family and friends just don’t happen as before. Younger people no longer “talk” as we once knew it.

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