Denzel Washington wants to know “are you using your device, or is your device using you?”
During an interview with the BBC, the Academy Award winner wondered whether or not all of our gadgets are really all that great for us.
“We have to ask ourselves – around the world – what is it doing to us?”
Today it seems as though people would rather engage with their phones, as opposed to interacting with people in their physical vicinity. The rise of social media has people feeling as though they have to document their existence, rather than simply enjoying it.
The need to gain “likes” and “followers” has taken over teenage culture, and it doesn’t seem like there’s any end in sight. People are constantly posting about the food they eat, the clothes they buy, the children they have, etc., but Washington wants to know “Can you put it down?”
The trend of living life online is driving people to use Facebook, and other social media sites as legitimate sources of news. Many of those who drive the “news” understand that, in order to maximize profits, they must engage with their audience. This has lead to what Washington calls “opin-news,” where, rather than deliver news, talking heads now deliver opinions on the news.
“It used to be news. Now we have ‘opin-news’. You know?
Oh glasses, we have three experts on the right, and three on the left. Let’s discuss.
Lightbulbs, we have three experts on the right…
That’s not news. That’s opin-news.”
He brings up an excellent point here. Are there major news outlets that simply covers the news, without giving a “hot-take”? With social media tailored to our every desire, it no longer behooves news companies to deliver the cold-hard facts. People want to FEEL something on social media, and those in the news understand this.
That is why it seems like everyone is pushing some sort of agenda. No matter what way you lean, liberal or conservative, social media will make sure that you see the viewpoint you agree with the most, regardless of its basis in fact.
Mr. Washington wants to know “what is the long-term effect of too much information?” The answer to that is obviously playing out in the world we see today.
Washington says that, thanks to our vast trove of information, we now see “a polarization of the electorate,” and “a mean-spirit-ness” more prevalent than ever.
“I’m not knocking the phone,” Washington is sure to state. “We have to ask ourselves, ‘what is it doing to us?'”
Once upon a time, not too long ago, the phone was a device used for talking. People would pick it up when they wanted to make plans, order something, or simply have a conversation. Now, the phone isn’t merely used for its intended purpose.
Today, the phone operates as a super computer for many people. Folks are constantly using their phones for work, and other means of productivity, but what percentage of device use is out of sheer boredom?
Instead of playing outside, kids spend hours on their Ipads. Teenagers have outings where it seems everyone is in a space together, but words aren’t spoken outside of the occasional “hey, check this out,” or “did you see what I posted?”
No vacation these days is complete without the endless post of how much fun one had while traveling, as though the experience itself wasn’t satisfying enough. There is something to getting a “like” that just makes the brain feel good. We, in large part, simply love having the approval of others. Unfortunately, this leads many people to continue chasing after that sense of approval.
Our phones have caused us to, in general, care less about one another. Think about it, how often are “don’t text and drive” ads on? If people REALLY cared about their neighbors, would texting and driving even be a thought (I’m just as guilty as anyone else)?
For crying out loud, people use their phones as a means to escape eye-contact while walking on the street. At some point it’s ok to say “Houston, we have a problem.”
Advertisers know that people are using their phones as an escape, and in turn are doing everything they can to make sure you don’t look away. This is why we need to take a step back and ask ourselves if we’ve been using our phones, or if they have been using us.
We also have to ask ourselves “are our gadgets making us better people?” Sure, we may THINK we know more, but how is that helping us? Are we helping one another more? Are we exploring the world, or are we doing so through the lenses of others?
Like Denzel, I’m not here to knock the phone (social media on the other hand…) as it allows us to have all kinds of information in an instant. However, it is good to question whether or not all of this information is helping or hurting us. By the way the world looks, and how people interact with those around them, it may be time we all asked ourselves “do we own our device? Or does our device own us?”