Monday, May 15, 2017

Once Phones are out of the Picture

A photographer removed cell phones from pictures and it is supposed to show how addicted and anti-social phones are making us.

Why does it show that? I have no idea. If you take the object away from pictures of people using the object it looks weird. We could also try taking food away from people eating or books away from people reading.

So there is the world made up of atoms and the world made up of bits, and for some reason there is this myth that the world made up of bits isn't the "real world". Maybe that myth is what this photographical social commentary is about - the phone isn't real and so when you take them out of the picture you're looking at how things really are. The problem is the world of bits is contained in the world of atoms, so it's no less real than you or I.

Or maybe we're supposed to think that these people are just permanently consumed with their phones and ignoring the other, more direct social activities. That too is a myth. The pictures were chosen for their being in the midst of direct social activities. Most of the time that people are lying in bed together or with a bunch of friends, they're not on their phones. People are not permanently on their phones. Their daily lives are filled with persistent checks of their phone. If you go out to dinner with someone who spends the whole time on their phone, the normal thing to expect is that something really serious is going on at the other end of the phone.

What people do on their phones is usually social in nature, but we might compare that to books. Do we scold someone who is reading all the time? After all, reading is a genuinely anti-social activity. Nobody cares because books our culture has made out books to be holy and phones to be evil.