Vices and Devices, Part 1

In shooting around the cities this summer, it has become painfully aware that people spend far too much time on their mobile devices.  Mostly, this is our smartphones, which have increasingly penetrated our lives to the very core.  The vast majority of us are now addicted to them, slavishly devoting every spare moment to them.  Studies have recently shown that this constant exposure is, in fact, re-wiring our brains permanently.  Before we even know what we are doing to ourselves, the changes may have already created lasting effects.  Some studies point to radiation levels emitted by cell phones, others argue that the addiction is messing with our brains…the point is that all this use of electronic devices is not necessarily good for us, and it’s happening so fast that we don’t have time to assess what is happening.

Let me ask you this: has your device become simply a vice?

Waiting for the bus?  Send someone a text to let them know you’re waiting for the bus.

People are less aware of their surroundings.  How often have you seen someone walking down the street, while the text or tweet on their phone?  They aren’t paying any attention to where they are going, so engrossed are they in their electronic universe.  Even worse, how many drivers do you see every time you go out who are texting or reading something on their phone as they drive?  I see quite a few, and I live in a state where that is illegal.

Lot of good the law seems to be as a deterrent.

Waiting for the light to change so you can cross the street?  Check your Facebook!

Every spare moment we have, we reach into our pockets and pull out our phones.  It’s an addiction.  I admit, I’m as guilty as the next guy (or girl)…I have been drawn into the cell phone thing and regardless of if I am in public or at home, if I have a few minutes, I whip mine out and play with it on the spot.

Sorry if that sounded gross…but that’s how it is!

Got a minute waiting on someone going to the bathroom?  Send a tweet!

We can debate the merits of virtual living through various social media.  Checking up on your twitter, facebook, flickr, google+, or…yes, even your WordPress blog is one thing when you are at your computer.  I’m not saying that it’s not an issue there as well, as the Internet is always there to distract you at work, school, or home.  Internet distraction is an epidemic.  Oh, and multi-tasking?  Don’t make me laugh.  That doesn’t exist, and recent studies have shown it to be a farce.

Are you actually going out to an event in public (also known as real life) tonight?  Better take a minute and “check in” with your phone so your virtual friends know where you are!

I’m not on some kind of crusade, and I’m not saying that we should all go cold turkey and quit using our phones, and detach ourselves from our virtual communities.  In many ways the Internet, and mobile technology, has made it easier for us to do a great many things.  When I travel abroad, I can keep in touch with friends; when people move away from the local area, staying in contact is much easier with them; if I’m out and about and I forgot something, I can text or call home while I’m on the go.  There are lots of reasons to be thankful for technology.

There are also lots of reasons to dislike it, and to be wary of the consequences of using it to the degree that we do.  Ever seen the movie Wall-E?  Yeah, ’nuff said.

At the ballpark with your kid?  Better make sure all your “Facebook Friends” know what you’re up to!

Tomorrow will be the second part of the series…including more photographs, and what I plan to do to counteract all this virtual living and its impacts on my real life.

Do you have any stories to share about virtual living?  Are you fed up with your own addiction to your device?  Please share your stories below for others to read.  I know I’m not the only one who has had enough and who is fed up with people all around who don’t seem to care about anything but their phones…




  1. Nice mini project! I notice these people all the time in real life, but it is even more interesting to see it captured in a photograph. People should be embarrassed by the real moments that are passing them by while buried in their phones.


  2. Good series! It’s so bizarre, everyone attached to these thingies, and so oblivious; none of the people in your images is engaging in any way with his/her surroundings. And this has become the norm in such a relatively short time. I don’t have any of those gadgets, so I don’t get the fascination.


  3. It is getting REALLY bad. Drivers, cyclists, people walking down the street. In airports nobody is looking where they’re going. I’ve refused to get a smart phone, prefer my dumb one instead. It’s not like I’m not online way too much as it is.

    Nice collection of shots. I’ve been compiling a some as well for a series.


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