Has Smartphone Culture Gone Too Far?

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People seem to use their smartphones everywhere these days: In bed, during movies, at dinner. Is it too much? And will it ever stop?

Hopefully you’re not reading this at the dinner table.

Cellphones — and especially feature-rich smartphones — have become a ubiquitous distraction. It’s surprising these days to see a social situation where nobody is fiddling with a phone.

Nearly 10 percent of adults have used a smartphone during sex. At least one restaurant gives a discount to diners who hand over their phones for the duration of the meal. A British survey found that 54 percent of participants suffer from “nomophobia,” the fear of losing sight of, or access to, their phones.

And now, a YouTube video satirizing our phone obsession has received more than 15 million views, The New York Times says. You can see the two-minute video below, but be warned: While at times funny, it’s mostly sad. (The top comment on it as of this writing: “Can you change the format please, I can’t view this video on my phone.” Tongue-in-cheek, we hope.)

“I came up with the idea for the video when I started to realize how ridiculous we are all being, myself included, when I was at a concert and people around me were recording the show with their phones, not actually watching the concert,” actress Charlene deGuzman, the video’s creator, told the Times.

The Times, and perhaps the video’s popularity, suggests people are starting to realize things have gotten a little out of hand. (Or, literally, not out of enough hands.) A Polish music festival recently banned fan recordings because they distract from the performance, the paper says. Rock singer Karen O “told audience members to put away their phones (using an expletive to emphasize her point)” at an April concert. Several restaurants have banned food photography.

The Times suggests this could be history repeating itself. “In the late 1950s, televisions started to move into the kitchen from the living room, often wheeled up to the dinner table to join the family for supper,” it says. But that quickly, somehow, became bad manners — it mostly stopped.

Do you think phone usage has gone too far? If so, do you think the culture will naturally rein in bad phone etiquette? What’s the worst abuse of a phone you’ve seen? Let us know on Facebook — from your phone, if you want.

Stacy Johnson

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