Friday September 06, 2013 | 08:00 AM
Posted by Rob Gould

Most of us have had those moments when we look around the table at friends with whom we are sharing a meal and notice they are all staring at their phones instead of talking with each other. I've certainly been guilty of this behavior on many occasions. I'm embarrassed to think about it. Recently a YouTube video dramatizing the isolation purported to be caused by social media use via smartphone has gone viral. The video, created by Charlene deGuzman, is titled, "I Forgot My Phone." It's certainly worth checking out. I know it made me think about my own use of my smartphone.

I've also noticed a number of articles referencing the video which address the question of whether social media use via smartphone is bringing us together or isolating us from one another. Two in particular come to mind; "Disruptions: More Connected, Yet More Alone," by Nick Bilton of The New York Times and, "The Problem With The 'I Forgot My Phone' Video," by Nathan Jurgenson of Cyborgology.

"Ms. deGuzman’s video makes for some discomfiting viewing. It’s a direct hit on our smartphone-obsessed culture, needling us about our addiction to that little screen and suggesting that maybe life is just better led when it is lived rather than viewed. While the clip has funny scenes — a man proposing on a beach while trying to record the special moment on his phone — it is mostly … sad." — Nick Bilton, The New York Times

"This isn’t about the problems of digital connection, it’s about propping oneself up as more human and alive. By identifying with and sharing the video, we can put ourselves in the protagonist’s shoes. I too recognize this! I am human and deep and carpe diem. But let’s consider the implication of showing others as robots who don’t live in the moment: you are basically saying they are less human in order to assert how above the unthinking-cellphone-zombie masses you are. Human connection, togetherness, and in-the-moment experience isn’t going away, indeed, we cherish it more than ever. Rad. But, then, more than that, we’ve become obsessed with it, treating the real as a fetish object, all in the name of appealing to the deeply conservative impulse to rank who is more or less human." — Nathan Jurgenson, Cyborgology

While there is no denying that sometimes social media users get so caught up in effecting how their lives appear, that they neglect to relish in their life experiences themselves. Once again, I'm guilty as charged. However, does this accurately bring us to the conclusion that we are all more isolated because of our social media use? The facts say "no."

I don't think anyone, Ms. deGuzman included, is suggesting we return to the dark ages of pre-smartphone life. Or, advocating that we feel superior to those who use social media more heavily, or even just differently, than we do. Instead, maybe it’s time for all of us to have a more self-aware relationship with technology and each other.

Yes, I'm paying attention.

 

— Sent from my iPhone

 

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Social media has changed the way that many of us learn, purchase, interact and explore the world around us. And, things are just getting started. Social, Social is a place to discuss social media with people from all walks of life. No experts allowed.

About the Author

Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002).

Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg

His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).

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