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The Domination of the World by Smartphone - The Evidence in Photos!

Updated on July 31, 2017
Yours truly
Yours truly | Source

Introduction

This is a collection of photos of people using smartphones! Why? Because for several years now I have become increasingly exasperated by the ever growing dependence of the human species upon a tiny box of tricks which they can stuff into their pocklets or their handbags, and which lights up when they press a button.

And what does it do after lighting up? It does everything that you think you need to do when you're out and about in the world today, but which nobody ever needed to do when they were out and about in the world in the past.

It was whilst on holiday in Thailand during the time when that country was in the midst of one particular gaming craze that the idea for this article about smartphones came into being. But don't worry - it's not an in-depth look at the social and psychological effects of our current addiction to these devices. Rather, it's just a collection of candid photos with captions which hopefully you will find humorous - a lighthearted and only slightly exaggerated look at a world obsession.


When did my exasperation begin? I suppose it was actually some time before that trip to Thailand, though in the beginning it wasn't so much exasperation as just a mild bemusement with the rapid erosion of social intercourse - ie: conversation - which seemed to be taking place during the first 15 years of the 21st century. I was working in a hospital at the time, and I most noticed this during lunch breaks. Sometimes I would be sitting in the staffroom just daydreaming, looking round the room, when I would find myself observing my work colleagues. And whilst they might indulge in conversation, quite often the room descended into total silence.

Some would be reading (as often as not on a Kindle or other e-reader (another electronic device which manages to irritate me - even though I can see the benefits). But many others would be staring down at a smartphone. Sometimes they were almost motionless, lost to the world, their consciousness only betrayed by the periodic jabbing with their fingers at the buttons. What they were doing, I did not always know, but I guess they would be texting, or reading e-mails, or playing games. I just observed.

Then in 2016 - after quitting work, sadly to never again experience that staffroom (I do miss the staffroom and my work friends, though not the smartphones!) - I was on holiday in Bangkok, Thailand, where I'd already noticed on previous visits that the locals seemed even more enamoured with these devices than us Westerners. In any communal gathering such as on a train ride, it often semed that no one was aware of anyone else, including the person sitting next to them, and the only sound to ever be heard was the constant beep beep of smartphone keys. At least the tone sometimes varied. Occasionally I took photos of people as they used their smartphones.

But on this particular visit, 'Pokémon Go' had recently been released on to the market and the craze was in full flow, and so the germ of an idea for this hub came about. And it happened in a shopping mall .....

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Picture No 1

This was the day when the imminent death of person to person contact became apparent to me. The first three of these photos were all taken literally within just ten minutes of each other in a shopping mall in Central Bangkok, which goes to show how easy it was to find examples. It seems that even shopping is only a secondary priority these days. Talking to each other comes way down the list!


Picture No 2

What on Earth can they all be doing? Well, I've already mentioned 'Pokémon Go' is certainly high on the list. But some will be reading texts from people they've spoken to less than ten minutes before, or will speak to less than ten minutes in the future, and some will be communicating with someone on social media - perhaps a 'friend on Facebook' that they wouldn't ordinarily want to spend the time of day with. Some may even be looking at a website (though the chances are it won't be anything more erudite than a media gossip page). None of them however, are talking to each other.


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Picture No 3

Isn't it nice when seven school friends meet up together to talk to ..... their mobile phones?

I swear that if a meteor came down and obliterated the Earth, some people would only notice if they saw its reflection in their cell phone screen.


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So to continue the story of this article. Having got those three photos above, I decided to keep a close look out for more opportunities. It didn't exactly take over my life whilst on holiday - if it had become so, then my abnormal obsession with taking these photos wouldn't have been much better than the obsession of these normal people with their smartphones! But whenever I saw a sight which amused me or (in some instances) amazed me, I took a photo. And those photos form the basis of this article. All were taken in Thailand, but I'm sure could have been taken in almost any country in the world. Hope you enjoy the rest of them :)


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Picture No 4

The next two photos were taken in an art gallery in Bangkok - a place where people go to use their eyes to study, to view, to observe.

Here for example are two people who went to the art gallery to study, to view, to observe ..... their smartphones.

Nice pictures on the wall. Wonder if they noticed?


Picture No 5

Hmm, this one's a bit complicated, so concentrate. Also taken in the art gallery, the picture below is my photo of a picture of a girl taking a photo with a smartphone of a picture of the King of Thailand taking a photo with a camera. Confused?


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Two more photos from shopping malls, both illustrating symmetry.


Picture No 6

Perfect symmetry - When you use your smartphone in company with a friend, it can become a beautiful exercise in symmetry - demonstrated here by two shop girls during their break.


Picture No 7

Almost perfect symmetry - I waited ages for the photo below, but nobody wanted to sit on the yellow bench. That's why it's only 'almost perfect' symmetry in the use of smartphones. But what's wrong with the yellow bench?


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Picture No 8

Now this is something which I'll never understand as long as I live.

If you have a laptop with a nice big screen and you have a smartphone with a teeny little screen that you need a magnifying glass to look at, which would you choose? The smartphone of course!

(I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she was doing different things on the two machines!!)

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Picture No 9

Elegance and style and a sense of deportment go hand in hand with the use of smart phones - as today's youth are well aware.


Picture No 10

An ever vigilant security guard keeps a very careful watch at all times - just in case someone snapchats him.

One thing I saw and really wanted to photograph, but haven't yet managed to get, was a security guard on bag checking duty at the entrance to a building, playing with his smartphone whilst people passed by unchallenged with bags full of - heavy shopping (I hope).

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Picture No 11

It gets worse! But don't worry, because she's holding on very tightly to that phone, rather than the guy who's driving. So I'm sure when she falls off the back of the bike and cracks her head open, she will be able to keep her most treasured possession very safe. So that's good.

Note the lack of a passenger crash helmet too - not compulsory in Thailand.


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Picture No 12

Well at least in the previous photo the girl didn't need to look where she was going. But this guy's riding. At least he's got a crash helmet, but maybe it's only a matter of time before they'll develop a little metal helmet for safety conscious motorcyclists to put around their phones. After all, he wouldn't want to damage that if he runs into the back of a truck would he?

(NB: in both these pictures, I can confirm there's no deceit - the bikes weren't stationary. They were moving.)


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Picture No 13

The picture above shows two guys. The guy on the left can be seen to be exhibiting normal smartphone behaviour, doing what everyone does with one of these devices. Maybe he's playing a game or reading e-mails or maybe reading one of my web pages? (wishful thinking in the extreme).

But what about the guy on the right? What can he possibly be doing? If I'm not very much mistaken I think he's harnessing a little known facility on one of these devices. Yes, they can actually be used for - wait for it - TALKING TO SOMEONE.

For the benefit of young addicts here, once upon a time believe it or not, 'talking' was the only thing people used a phone for. Instead of pressing buttons or touchscreens and sending a message to a friend, you actually heard the sound of their voice. You may see it being practised in old photos and movies. It used to be called 'making a telephone call' and the device was known as a 'telephone'.


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Picture No 14

You may one day forget what you look like and not have a mirror handy. So the invention of the 'selfie' was a priceless landmark in the development of human culture. And it has the added benefit that - unlike a mirror - you can show everyone else in the world what you look like. Instantly! What's more, you can even put a silly expression on your face and make yourself look as unattractive to everyone as possible. What a boon to our social life that is.

Having said that, the girl in the picture looks quite nice, so I'll forgive her - she's got a right to take her own photo. Personally I'd rather take a photo of those pigeons than take a photo of myself.


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Picture No 15

It's getting to the stage whereby it's not socially possible to exist in the absence of a smartphone. What do you do if you are without one? Well, if you are friendless and phoneless with nobody to talk to, you can always stare at the real world .....


Picture No 16

.... or you can just go to sleep.


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Picture No 17

Finally, even mermaids in Thailand cannot do without their smartphones! This was taken from a mural outside the Buddhist temple of Wat Pa Huay Lad in Loei Province. One of the things I like about Buddhism is that despite the aura of reverence which it has in common with all religions, sometimes a sense of fun is permitted, and this was a mural of artwork which depicted sea creatures, including the mermaid with an Apple i-phone.

Don't ask me why - I don't know. It may have been intended as a wry social comment, but it's a good indication of how - for better or worse - these smartphones are now an integral part of our culture.

In Conclusion - Why write this?

So this is my study of the smartphone, as used in Thailand. You know that film 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' where the people are taken over one by one by an alien, and they all look exactly the same as before but their behaviour changes to become unthinking, zombie-like beings? Well one day - maybe soon - it may happen to me. I may succumb to the smartphone. If that happens, I will try to retain some semblence of humanity, but I thought I ought to express my feelings now - before it's too late.

Don't get me wrong - this is really just a bit of fun which I hope will bring a smile to the face. But nonethless there is a semi-serious message here. At times I could swear that people - especially teenagers - are becoming inextricably welded to these devices to a greater extent than they are to their friends or family. It has become their constant companion and their most treasured possession. It seems normal social behaviour is changing before our eyes, the art of conversation is being lost, and along with it, an awareness of the world around us. Where will it end?

I'd Love to Hear Your Comments. Thanks, Alun

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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Well this was very well done. I just feel that if it is not getting critical "right now" needs met it needs to wait until I am home and have thought about whatever. Your GPS fits with that.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
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      Greensleeves Hubs 3 months ago from Essex, UK

      Eric Dierker; Thanks Eric - nice comment! You mention apps. I've got a simple cell phone which I bought c 2009. I've never used it to connect to the Internet and I've never had a smartphone yet.

      But I might possibly get one in the near future if only because I also haven't yet got that other bit of modern technology - the satnav. So I might try to kill two birds with one stone and get a smartphone with a satnav app. That'll probably be one of very few apps I'll ever want however, and I STILL won't want to use the phone for everyday accessing of the Internet! I'll wait till I can get home and use a proper sized screen :)

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
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      Greensleeves Hubs 3 months ago from Essex, UK

      FlourishAnyway; Cheers Flourish. Glad you liked them. I took a whole lot of motorcycle photos but of course many of them were blurred, or obscured by other vehicles, or else the phone was not clearly on view. They were mostly taken from a bridge over a road where the traffic was particularly busy. I love Thailand, but one thing it's notorious for is its traffic and road accidents. In addition to using mobiles whilst riding, and often not wearing helmets, I've also seen as many as five people on board a bike - father, mother and three tiny little children! Alun

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      Greensleeves Hubs 3 months ago from Essex, UK

      MizBejabbers; I couldn't agree more! I haven't yet gotten used to people with those bluetooths stuck in their ear. Whenever I hear someone talking and there's nobody else around, my first thought is they must be talking to me. My second thought is that maybe they're drunk or high on something. It takes a few seconds before the third thought - that they're talking with an ear piece - strikes home.

      Telepathy might be great for ending the smartphone craze - though I'm guessing it might introduce a whole lot of strange new problems for us to deal with ! :) Thanks a lot! Alun

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
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      Greensleeves Hubs 3 months ago from Essex, UK

      Dora Isaac Weithers; Thank you Dora. I think I'm not too bad at predicting the future, but I must admit I NEVER thought the smartphone would take hold quite the way it has. Mainly because for me the Internet for most of its history was primarily about information websites, and I've never liked reading webpages on a little screen like that. I can't understand why anyone else does! Much appreciated as ever. Alun

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      Greensleeves Hubs 3 months ago from Essex, UK

      Heidi Thorne; Thanks Heidi! What I particularly remember from the very earliest days of cell phones is how the few people who had them used to stand on street corners making their calls. I was never quite sure whether they were just posing where everyone could see them with their new fancy device, or whether that was the only place they could get good reception!

      In those days the phones were enormous - then they became tiny - now they seem to have gotten bigger again. Progress?

      '(Social) disconnection-but-hyper-connected' is a great phrase you use. I honestly think with the current pace of technological change it is hard to see where things will go in the future, but I know as long as I live, I'll never understand this need to be in constant contact with everyone wherever one goes. Cheers, Alun

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I could do this stuff, if I had any friends. Phone calls and pictures are enough. My son told me I only have two apps on my 8 year old phone. I am sure I have more.

      All this still does not change the fact that my children should call me more often.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA

      I liked this article and its photos. We have allowed technology to take over and are losing both the desire and ability to truly talk to one another.i loved the art studio photo and motorcycle photos in particular.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 3 months ago

      This is a good article with good photos. The question is: What's next? The cell phone has morphed from an instrument to use in case of an emergency on the road to, well, what you see in those photos. And remember the pre-phone days when kids weren't allowed pagers in school? It really is disgusting, but the stage that really freaked me out was when everybody was talking using bluetooth's attached to their ear jabbering at the air. Hopefully the next stage is telepathy in human beings and we won't have to watch a bunch of zombies walking around.

      Hope the mermaid's iPhone is waterproofed.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Who knew that the cell phone would have taken us hostage the way it has. You got some great photos capturing our dilemma. Good job!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 months ago from Chicago Area

      No kidding! And here's another interesting observation. Back in the day when cell phones weren't yet smartphones, we used to see scenes like this one... only everyone was TALKING on the phone. With the introduction of the smartphone, that behavior changed into glued-to-the-screen situation you depicted here.

      Either way, I wonder what that says about today's society at large? We cannot deal with those immediately around us, so we need to connect to others that we'd rather be with? Or, do we crave the comfort and connection with these others so much that we can't stand to be away from them, causing us to keep in constant virtual connection?

      And what would the aliens think when they arrive and see this behavior? Or how will the far future archaeologists interpret these scenes?

      This disconnection-but-hyper-connected behavior has been widely noted. And it will be interesting to see how it evolves with technology and device changes.

      Hope your real life weekend is awesome. Cheers!

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
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      Greensleeves Hubs 3 months ago from Essex, UK

      Louise Powles; I heard that too Louise! I think there is a bit of a backlash against mobile phones. I believe they've also been banned on some public transport, not least because when they are used in the old fashioned way - as a telephone - it's very irritating for everyone else who has to listen in to the chatter.

      Glad you liked Picture No 17. I hope HubPages doesn't consider it too rude! They shouldn't. After all, it's artwork and if it's good enough for a Buddhist temple, it should be good enough for a website! :)

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
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      Greensleeves Hubs 3 months ago from Essex, UK

      Angel Guzman; Cheers Angel. Personally whilst I can understand the convenience of a smartphone whilst on the move, I'll never understand the appeal of looking at a tiny little screen rather than a 10" or 14" or 19" screen, if one has the choice! But you're right, with any kind of computer, a balance in lifestyle is required.

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      Louise Powles 3 months ago from Norfolk, England

      I heard on the news today that somewhere, I can't remember where, are going to make it an offence for people to cross the road whilst looking at their mobile phones because it's distracting. Quite right too I think. I very often nearly bump into people (or they do me!) because they're not looking where they're going. I find it very annoying, and so unsociable. Picture 17 made me laugh lol.

    • Angel Guzman profile image

      Angel Guzman 3 months ago from Joliet, Illinois

      Yeah some people are worse than others in regards to time on their smartphone. Good funny article. Technology is firmly a way of life and sometimes we need to remember what a healthy balance is.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
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      Greensleeves Hubs 3 months ago from Essex, UK

      sangeeta verma; Thank you Geet for commenting here. Yes I agree. I think it is important for those people who are now hooked to smartphones to take a break from them, and maintain some attachment to the real world. There's beauty and interest in the world which goes unnoticed if all one's attention is devoted to that small screen in your hand! Cheers, Alun

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      sangeeta verma 3 months ago from Ludhiana India

      Very well written even I am hooked to it now no computer no laptop only one box as you said. But not like as shown in the picture there is always time to spend with nature n that time no smartphone only real world no virtual world enjoy the moment where you are. But today's kids are like yours pictures if something happens next to them they will not notice it but they will be aware through their smart phone this situation is really worry some. Your article is rocking Allun.