Here in Taiwan, throwing away your household trash means waiting outside at a certain time of the day and physically throwing your bags into the back of the lorry as it passes.
Yesterday, I was waiting outside to do just this. There were around a dozen other people from my apartment block waiting to do the same thing. As I glanced around at everyone else waiting, I noticed something familiar but strange at the same time. Literally every other person out there was looking down at their phone. Every person! Even I had my phone in my hand and had been using it a few seconds earlier.
This is normally something I would take for granted in the modern world we are living in but at that time it just struck me as bizarre and for a moment realised the extent that mobile technology has and is still changing the way we interact with our lives.
I wondered how many of these people were actually doing something important on their phones and how many were literally just playing about with it because they were bored and didn’t want to look up to interact with the world.
The more I thought about this, the more I started to realise that for a majority of people living in first world countries this is actually an addiction. Most of us don’t just use our phones for practical purposes but actually use them as a 24/7 method of escape from reality.
I’m not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing. I don’t have much of an opinion on it and I am just as addicted as anyone else. But it just opened my mind to the extent the world is changing. We are truly living our lives in a digital world. It’s not just a science fiction concept. It’s happening right now.
What really interests me is that this ‘plugged-in’ behavior is culturally accepted and rarely questioned. To me this shows that in the near future the smart phone experience is going to become more immersive and will literally replace reality for many people.
Next time you are out in public, make a point of staying off your phone and actually take the time to watch the people around you. When you are really aware of what is happening it becomes kind of shocking.