Observing the ugly truth about smartphones

At this point, the use of smartphones has become as commonplace as using utensils to…

At this point, the use of smartphones has become as commonplace as using utensils to eat. No longer just high-tech gadgets for early adopters, smartphones are inextricably embedded in the lives of 85{1ecc11bb1501b786f489293ac2ac25fb54683d686574816a94d14a51901cfb17} of  American adults, according to Pew Research.

If you’re someone who is actively engaged in work, family and friendships and still don’t own a smartphone, you’re a rare breed. I must admit that I am one of these holdouts, and I am proud of it. I stand firm in my belief that smartphones, as a result of their use and misuse, continue to have a negative impact on the psychological, emotional and spiritual well-being of our society. Having unapologetically eschewed these addictive devices, I have only allowed my children to own and use basic phones, effectively  keeping my two sons well grounded, at least for the time being.

A few weeks ago, in an effort to try to rekindle a connection my younger son had with another teen while at an overnight summer camp, I contacted his family and arranged for the two boys to meet up at the local mall. The plan was to drop my son off at the mall, where my son and his friend could wander around for a few hours and spend time reconnecting. After meeting him and his parents at a designated location, I left the area, and both boys headed inside. A few hours later, I picked up my son who appeared distraught.

He had been completely ignored for the entire afternoon. Within minutes, the other teen had pulled out an iPhone and was instantly detached from his surroundings, and of course, my son in the process. What started as such a promising social opportunity turned into a painfully awkward, hurtful fiasco.

I’m in a constant state of dismay as disconnected dysfunction unfolds around me. At the gym, people can barely complete a set without having to reach for their phones. At a booth inside a local 99 restaurant, a family sat in silence and texted away, oblivious to one another. On the way out of the local Stop and Shop, a glassy-eyed cashier, who had barely finished handing me change, instantly grabbed her phone from the counter.

Certainly, the notion that the over-dependence on and misuse of smartphones can have harmful effects is old news by now. We’ve read the studies and seen the statistics on how drastic an impact smartphones have had on society and culture.

I’m not going to suggest you pore over the data again. What I do encourage is that people step back and observe, as I have been doing, how those around you are interacting — or not — with each other and their devices.

Scott Liftman is a freelance journalist who lives in Framingham.

As You Were Saying: Observing the ugly truth about smartphones