I probably shouldn’t post this blog. I share some of the guilt. After all, I’m a producer of internet content.
During my walk through Balboa Park today, I felt creeping despair.
Balboa Park is an amazing, wonderful, special place. Lifted eyes see a world that is infinitely interesting and beautiful.
About one third of the people I observed had their eyes absolutely fixed to the tiny screens of their smartphones. They were too obsessed to notice the vast world around them. Nor other people around them.
Of these, many were grown adults searching for a virtual Pokemon, a game fit for the simple mind of a child. At least these people looked up from time to time.
Yes, I know some people were busy communicating with friends, or perhaps looking up information, or a map of the park.
I also know that our lives are complex and so is human psychology. Everyone is different. I, too, have my silly, simple pleasures. It’s hard to draw firm conclusions. Technology changes. The culture changes. People change. Fads come and go.
But it does appear that humans are powerfully drawn to stimuli on isolated screens.
And, of course, the wonderful thing about smartphones is they can make life so much easier. Eye-to-eye politeness is no longer required. The potential for vulnerability in spontaneously spoken words is thankfully avoided. Problem solving is automatic. Critical thinking is less and less necessary. Simple and self-comforting ideas flood social media. Self absorption is made as easy as pie. Narcissism is rewarded.
I often wonder, as virtual reality becomes increasingly prevalent, whether people will permanently insert their entire selves into shallow, shrinking virtual worlds. The Matrix, of our own choosing.
If it feels good, why fight it?