I can remember just five years ago, disputes over finances was the leading topic of discussion in my house.
From 2010 to 2015, we’ve upgraded from money to mobile devices, with my partner often expressing the lonely and ignored sentiment. I’ve tried to rationalize my reasons for always being on my phone with arguments consisting of work–keeping up to date with what’s trending on Twitter, staying in the know with what’s currently breaking news. And sometimes, my partner will understand, but most times, he won’t as I’ll find myself distracted in something a friend will say, which turns into a full blown, non-work related conversation, prolonging the hours designated for work. The time for him dwindles; the time spent on some Apple device increases.
I am addicted to my iPhone, and it’s affecting my relationship.
So much so that when I ask women what are key things that sustain their relationship or marriage and they respond with knowing when to give your undivided attention to your man sans a cellphone, a guilt consumes me. I’ve been trying when the mister wants his Saturday to look like me, him, a bed and Netflix all day, but when my phone lights up and I hear specific sounds come from a device, I have to put a pause on that movie to check an email. I have to take out five minutes of “us time” to respond to something that needs me right then and there. I removed myself from an intimate moment to tend to an inanimate object, and his mannerisms thereafter caused me to undergo an internal conflict of finding a balance in catering to my career and nourishing my union.
He often jokes about recording me to show me just how much I’m on my phone. While I laugh at his remarks and oppose his theories of me spending over ten hours attached to a computer, tablet, and/or phone, I reflect on the validity of his statements at the end of the day. How much have I missed at home? What didn’t I do because my priorities lied in catching a trending story? It’s crucial you don’t become absent in a present moment that requires your presence.
Photographer Eric Pickersgill must have clandestinely spoken to my partner when he created the photo series REMOVED, which aims to show how disconnected people are from one another and increasingly attached to our devices. The photography was sparked after witnessing the disunion amongst a family at a café.
“Family sitting next to me at Illium Café in Troy, NY is so disconnected from one another. Not much talking. Father and two daughters have their own phones out. Mom doesn’t have one or chooses to leave it put away. She stares out the window, sad and alone in the company of her closest family. Dad looks up every so often to announce some obscure piece of info he found online. Twice he goes on about a large fish that was caught. No one replies. I am saddened by the use of technology for interaction in exchange for not interacting. This has never happened before and I doubt we have scratched the surface of the social impact of this new experience. Mom has her phone out now.”
The domination of smartphones and the advancement of technology has children and adults alike absorbed in a new world that minimize our physical interactions with one another. Pickersgills awareness of the impact of our devices was something he had to capture on film. “The photographs represent reenactments of scenes that I experience daily. We have learned to read the expression of the body while someone is consuming a device, and when those signifiers are activated it is as if the device can be seen taking physical form without the object being present.”
From our hunched over positions on subways where we’re engulfed in what’s on a screen that we become incognizant of what’s around us, to failing to enjoy events because we’re too engrossed on Snapchatting, Instagramming, or Twitpicing our moments, our phones are taking away from what matters most. We live in a world where if you don’t capture a private moment to share publicly with the world, it didn’t happen.
Pickersgill’s photos removes the gadgets that consume our lives to highlight just how we look without it. He recreates that moment in the café with different families and couples in real-life situations–in bed with our significant other, at dinner tables, with girlfriends. It’s a captivating series that unveils the sad truth of what our lives have become and how separated we are from reality.
Check out Eric Pickersgill’s REMOVED in the gallery below and let’s talk in the comment section! Are you guilty of spending too much time on your phone and has it made an impact on your relationships with people?