The way smartphones impact our conversation in modern life is frightening. Simply look at any group of friends in a restaurant, a couple meant to be on a romantic date or how your colleagues act the next time you have a meeting.
Heck, it’s a good day if they manage to go five minutes without looking at their phones.
Capturing this disconnect and short attention span is London-based photographer Babycakes Romero, who was inspired after “seeing it over and over again as well as experiencing first hand.”
Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, he says: “It originally caught my eye as there was a certain symmetry to these people locked simultaneously yet separately in the same action and it appealed on a visual level, but as I continued I noticed an inherent sadness to the proceedings.”
While capturing his subjects, he noticed that smartphones were becoming a barrier to when people met up in person.
“I saw how people used it as a social prop, to hide their awkwardness, to fill the silence but as I continued to observe and document this modern phenomena I felt that the devices were actually causing the awkwardness and the silence. They basically allow people to withdraw rather than engage.
“All social etiquette regarding the use of phones in company seems to have disappeared. The device takes precedence over the person that is present and that felt wrong. It is a form of rejection and lowers the self-worth of the person superceded for a device. I feel it also highlights a growing sense of self-absorption in people as they would rather focus on their world in their phone rather than speak to the person they are with.”
While photographing them, he also noticed that most of the time, they didn’t even seem present or enjoying the moment for what it was.
“You see couples in restaurants eating in silence, the “dining dead” who can barely even look at each other. Smartphones have created a way to make the silence somewhat more bearable but it is just masking the inability or unwillingness to communicate with each other.
“And yet, it is even more painful in some ways because you are implying that whoever or whatever you are interacting with on your device it is more important than the person in front of you and it cannot be processed any other way than to feel rejected.”
Here at HuffPost UK Lifestyle, we know how people desperately want to be better behaved with their phones, but at the same time feel utterly dependent on it for everything.
In response to ‘Death Of Conversation’, Babycakes said that the most poignant remarks are how miserable and rejected people feel.
“I think it shows that digital communication is starting to be almost preferential to people in comparison with face to face interaction.
“When you have protection of a screen and a keyboard and you can think about your response, you become much more contrived and guarded. You choose how to present yourself rather than being exposed for what you are and it is for this reason that people are resorting more and more to computer communication. It allows them to be the best version of themselves and that is very appealing.”
Very sobering stuff. And in case you’re wondering, no, he doesn’t have a smartphone.