When we leave the house, we immediately check to make sure that we have our smartphones, wallets, and keys. If we don’t have our phones on us, we’ll realize it quickly, and turn back around to get them. How long has it been since you’ve gone somewhere without your phone, tablet, or “smart” device, though? I bet that it’s been a while.
In a room full of people, it seems as though so many are content to stare down at our phones. We ask people to repeat themselves over and over because we’re too busy reading that article or checking out that Facebook post to really listen. We’ll text other people instead of converse with the people around us.
We may have discussions with others, but they’re often about whatever’s currently holding our interest on our screens. But what would the world look like if our “smart” devices were removed from our hands?
Photographer Eric Pickersgill has created a photo series called “Removed,” that shows us just that: a world without our smartphones in our hands.
In his photos, Pickersgill removes the device and leaves the subject in place, staring into the palms of their hands. The result is zombie-like and eerie. There are fewer people smiling. Some people’s brows are furrowed. There are even groups of people staring down at absolutely nothing. They’re sitting with friends or hanging out at a barbecue, ignoring the beauty of the world around them.
When scrolling through these photos using my own “smart” device, I realized how much time I spend staring down at my own phone. Since I first saw the photo series, I’ve looked around at the people around me and become more aware of how many of us look down at our smartphones in our everyday lives.
Our phones have become part of our everyday rituals.
Without them, how could we function? Would we get anywhere without a navigation app? Would we know any world news if we couldn’t pull it up on our news apps? It’s difficult to think about leaving the house without your phone in your hand.
Many people use their smart device as a coping mechanism. If you’re looking down at your phone or tablet, it’s easier to ignore things that are happening in the real world. This photo series, though, shows us what we miss when we use our phones to distract us. We miss opportunities to have genuine interactions. We don’t see the beauty of nature. Most of all, we miss time with our friends and family.
The next time you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through the apps on your smartphones, remember Pickersgill’s eerie photo series. Let it be your reminder to remove the phone from your hand and enjoy the world around you.