Category:  Social Media

Look Up From Your Phone

"I have 422 friends, yet I'm lonely," begins writer and director Gary Turk in his spoken-word video campaign against technology, "Look Up." The campaign had 11.6 million views on YouTube in only 10 days.

As a millennial, I am a member of the last generation that lived a childhood without cell phones and social media. When I was growing up, my father used to have to whistle to call my brother and I home for dinner. Like Gary Turk, we would spend all day outside with the other children in the neighborhood playing in our tree house and riding bikes until the sun set. The world we live in now is very different.

“We’re surrounded by children who since they were born have watched us living like robots and think it’s the norm. It’s not very likely you’ll win world’s greatest Dad if you can’t entertain a child without using an IPad,” says Turk.

Many behaviors that used to be normal have become odd and vice versa. It’s strange to drop by a friend’s house “unannounced,” or without sending a text. Dating has become almost entirely mediated by texting. I can’t navigate anywhere without Google Maps. And I take so many pictures of myself I could probably wallpaper an entire house with my face.

Yesterday I was with two friends and I suddenly realized that we hadn’t spoken a single word in almost two hours because we were on our phones. We were literally in the same room as other tangible, familiar humans, yet we were compelled to text, Snap Chat and Facebook other people who were not present. So today I decided to make a change. Although small, I vowed not to use my phone on the Metro this morning.

I looked around and saw almost every single person swiping through their smart phones, silently checking the weather, email and listening to music. However, the results of my experiment were surprising. It only took about two minutes for a boy my own age to start conversation with me.

“So look up from your phone, shut down that display. Take in your surroundings make the most of today. Just one real connection is all it can take to show you the difference being there can make.” As it turns out Turk was right. “We have a finite existence, a set number of days.” I’m not going to spend the rest of mine looking down at some invention.

Check out the video here:

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