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Smartphones create dangerous disconnect

Burgandy Brockman , Opinion Writer
November 14, 2013
Filed under Opinion

Smartphones could be the most brilliant invention of this generation, but they could also be turning people into unobservant and disconnected zombies.

“Research shows 73 percent of Americans would feel panicked if they lost their mobile phone, while 14 percent took it a step further and said they would feel desperate without their device,” a Huffington Post article said.

I’m actually surprised the percentages aren’t higher, especially knowing from personal experience what a week without a smartphone entails. We are all so attached to our phones, claiming they’re beneficial, but are they?

In San Francisco, on a crowded train, Justin Valdez was shot and killed while bystanders not only did nothing, but didn’t even notice the danger until it was over due to being too distracted by their phones, said CNN writers Kyung Lah and Lateef Mungin.

“The security footage of the incident is chilling,” Lah and Mungin said. “The man, donning a baseball hat and smile, lifts a .45-caliber handgun in plain view, three or four times. He waves the weapon as if choosing who he wants to kill. At one point, he even wipes his nose with the gun. But nobody seemed to notice until the blast goes off.”

He wiped his nose with the gun and no one noticed, not one single person? Not only is our addiction to our phones annoying, it’s also putting others in danger.

“Though this is an extreme and violent example, there are others,” Lah and Mungin said. “You may remember the woman who was so absorbed with texting that she fell right into a mall fountain. Or you remember the guy who was so engrossed in his phone he almost walked right into a black bear.”

This seriously happens and it’s sad. It’s incomprehensible the level at which one must be focused on their phone to not even look up while walking.

Derek Smith is a self-proclaimed smartphone addict who logged one week of phone usage.

“The medical student sent 40 e-mails and 399 text messages, snapped 25 photos, bought two movie tickets, downloaded four songs, watched a full-length film, checked the weather forecast 15 times, shopped at Target, surfed the Web for 129 minutes and spent five and a half hours socializing with friends on Facebook,” CNN writer Brandon Griggs said.

What was he missing in the real world as he went about his week with his phone glued to his hand like an Inspector Gadget wanna-be? Moderation is greatly needed.

Smartphones can be helpful and positive tools in our lives, but apparently we aren’t capable of separating ourselves from them long enough to walk safely, much less have a legitimate face-to-face conversation with anyone.

Society has become so attached to these inanimate objects that people will panic when someone so much as touches their phone.

“If somebody picks up my phone, it does make me nervous,” Stephen Anfield, a participant in CNN’s study on phone overuse, said to Griggs. “It’s not a privacy issue. There’s nothing that I’m hiding. I just think it’s a very personal item.”

Smith told Griggs his phone is a summary or a reflection of his life.

“It’s almost like I am holding a copy of my brain in my hands,” Smith said.

If people start comparing their smartphones to replicas of their own brains, we are in serious trouble. I’m not sure what is worse: the tell-tale, science-fiction idea of technology taking over the world, or the realistic shrinking of our minds by letting these smartphones do the work for us.