‚Look Up‘ video: Are smartphones really that bad?
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For anyone that missed last week’s viral video sensation, Look Up (below) is a piece of poetic social commentary on smartphone use that has taken the internet by storm.
Narrated by writer and director Gary Turk, the film clip waxes poetic about the vices of social media and smartphone use.
All this technology we have it’s just an illusion Community, companionship, a sense of inclusion When you step away from this device of delusion You awaken to see a world of confusion.

First posted in April, the video has since reeled in over 32 million views. That’s an extra 2.6 million hours that users have spent looking down. The video urges viewers to put down their phones and talk to one another:
So when you’re in public and you start to feel alone Put your hands behind your head, step away from the phone You don’t need to stare at your menu or at your contact list Just talk to one another, learn to co-exist.

Is all this time spent using a smartphone really such a destructive element in our lives? Do we really need to ‚look up‘?

The film has received mixed responses in the media, being dismissed as „sentimental nonsense“ and „tone-deaf spoken-word verse“ and the author has since backpedaled from his rhymed cristicism of social media’s „illusion“, „delusion“ and „confusion“.

Dis-connected?

The amount of time spent using a smartphone is steadily rising. The latest studies estimate two hours and forty minutes of every smartphone user’s day is spent looking at their device, with the typical users checking their phone 150 times a day.

It has been shown that excessively looking at other women’s selfies can have a negative psychological impact on women. But there is little evidence to show that the smartphone and social media themselves are socially destructive.

The Look Up video also picks up on a common debate about the apparent over-use of smartphones on trains

„I can’t stand to hear the silence of a busy commuter train / When no one wants to talk for the fear of looking insane.“

In a recent talk on smartphone use at the Berlin re:publica 2014, researcher Kate Miltner explained that public places were no more alive with conversation before smartphones than they are today. If anything, smartphones have increased the potential for social interaction by allowing users to interact remotely.

A study co-authored by Miltner has proven that mobile phones do not have a negative impact on our relationships.

Contrary to popular belief, […] failing to adhere to injunctive (i.e., societal) norms regarding mobile phone usage does not impact relational quality. Rather, results indicate that perceived adherence to participants‘ own internal standards —by both the participant, and the participant’s relational partner— and perceived similarity between partners were more influential.

„How many of you had a partner leave you because you texted at the dinner table?“ Miltner asked the re:publica attendees. No one raised their hand.

Regardless of the evidence, the video’s simplistic approach to the social media debate has struck a chord with the web’s concerned digital citizens. Nearly a quarter of a million have rated the video positively, while only 7,379 gave it a thumbs down.

„We’ve become a generation Smart Phones & Dumb People!“, one viewer has posted.

Technoparanoia, self-loathing and smartphones go hand in hand it would seem. Even if smartphones don’t have a negative impact on us, this video proves that a significant amount of people think it does.

Feature image: A man uses a smartphone. via Shutterstock / copyright: file404

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