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Diatribe: GUEST POST – Banksy Calls Us Out: Do We Love Our Mobiles More Than Each Other?

12/10/2014

shutterstock_227421814In the 1960s, Swiss novelist and playwright Max Frisch defined technology as “the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it.” Although Frisch’s commentary is more than 50 years old and was before smartphones, video messaging and social media, his words echo loudly in the halls of modern philosophical debate.

More recently, the renowned and enigmatic U.K. graffiti artist Banksy graced the door of a Bristol pub with his latest piece entitled “Modern Love,” in which he portrays two lovers in an embrace, each looking at a cell phone over the other’s shoulder. The poignant piece has again raised some pensive questions: Has humanity lost touch with itself? Does technology hinder our ability to connect with other people offline? Have we in fact embraced technology so completely that we no longer experience the world around us?

What Is Nomophobia?

If there is any indication that the answer to these questions is a resounding “yes,” it would be the fact that nomophobia, or the fear of being without mobile communication, is a legitimate fear that is reportedly on the rise in all of the industrialized countries of the world, according to Psychology Today. College students have confessed to taking their cellphones into the shower with them, and 63 percent of adults have admitted that they would rather give up chocolate than their mobile devices, reports Business 2 Community. And, 33 percent said they would prefer to give up sex, says Telenav.

What, or Whom, Is to Blame?

GuestBloggerSo, what’s so wrong with that? Maybe contemporary tech is actually worth these sacrifices. The wonder, and most humanly significant aspect of mobile communication devices, is that no one ever has to feel alone again. No more standing by yourself looking conspicuously single at a crowded party when instead you can busy yourself with your Facebook friends. Why stare longingly at a beautiful sunset all alone when you can Instagram a photo of it and share it with the world? An issue arises, though, when we are not alone, when we are with loved ones, and yet still cannot bring ourselves to put our phones away. We would rather check-in, chat or text with someone somewhere else than pay attention to those standing right beside us. Can the faceless “LOL” of a text replace the sound of a friend’s laughter?

Is it really the technology, though, that is destroying our authentic communication skills? Cell phones are incredible tools that can enhance our lives, provide us with the answers to questions that used to take days of book research to find and can instantly put us in contact with the people, who are thousands of miles away, in an instant. The mobile device is a tool of unlimited promise and capability, but what happens when we value the tool more than we value the results of its work? What happens when we love the means of communication more than the meaning of it? What, or whom, is to blame?

It Is Us, Not Technology

Despite the many instances that suggest mobile technology and communication have caused a deterioration in the quality of human contact—that it causes complications in romantic relationships, that it has become something we depend on so completely that some have admitted they would rather lose a finger than be without it—still, we make no move to slow down its progression. Prolific writers and artists, like Fisch and Banksy, satirize our technology obsession, and yet we have accepted virtual communication as our actual reality.

Technology did not kill genuine, meaningful human communication. We did.

Jayme CookJayme Cook is a writer and English instructor living in Phoenix, Arizona.  She studied writing in Wales, UK, and teaches college composition.

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One Comment
  1. Great post. I love Frisch’s quote, “the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it.” That sums it up right there and it was written in the 1960s. Technology is a tool not a crutch. If you let it be the latter, you become its slave. Thanks for sharing, BTG

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