Why Smartphone Fixation is Better Than Big Screens in Public Places

We are worried about the wrong screens.

September 27, 2017

"I fear we are turning into digital robots. Will future generations know how to converse with one another face to face? Will they notice the birds, trees, sunrise and the people with whom they share the planet?”

Jane E. Brody, Hooked on Our Smartphones New York Times, 1/9/17.

"Smartphones Are the New Cigarettes

Mark Manson, Observer, 4/21/17.

Nowadays, the first-world worry du jour seems to be our addiction to smartphones.

Academics worry that smartphones are destroying our ability to empathize and be present with each other.

Scholars publish research with titles such as Depression, Anxiety, and Smartphone Addiction in University Students- A Cross Sectional Study.  

Me.  I’m less worried.

Sure, smartphones may be rewiring our brains and our social connections.  But I think we will adapt and adjust.

Besides, I think that everyone is worried about the wrong screen.

The screen that academics and pundits should be railing against are big (and loud) TV's in public places.

Want to worry about a screen? Then worry about that giant screen blaring CNN at the airport gate waiting area.

Get upset about the big screens that seem to be popping up all across university campuses under the seemingly innocent guise of “digital signage." I’ll take everyone in a waiting room glued to their smartphones any day over a big television that can’t be turned off. Big and loud public screens make it impossible to read, to think, or to just sit quietly.

If you are worried about smartphone addiction then you can put down your phone. (Or go into smartphone rehab or whatever you need to drop the iPhone and pick up a book). What you and I can’t do is make the screen at the gas pump stop showing us a video and a commercial.   

Here is my rule of thumb when it comes to technology. Stop worrying about what everybody else is doing. Worry about what you are doing.

My other rule of thumb is that it is perfectly legitimate form of social resistance to unplug big public screens.

What technology are you worried about?



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