There is no arguing the fact that social media has come to be an important part of today’s society. In fact, over 81% of the American population has a social media profile on at least one platform. While this technology promises to open doors and connect us globally, at what cost?
Stop for a moment and look back on the last time you and your friends went out for dinner together. How many of your friends couldn’t put their phone down the entire meal? How many would put it down only to be interrupted mid-conversation because they couldn’t resist the urge to check the notification that just came through? The bigger question, how many of you reading this have no idea what your friends were doing the last time you went out for dinner because you were the one glued to a screen?
It may be hard to hear, but this is the reality of our current ‘online generation’. Look around you for a moment… People are walking down the street, noses glued to their phones to the point they don’t even look before walking out in the crosswalks, while others can’t put their phone down long enough to drive to their destinations. Entire family meals are ‘shared’ without hardly a word spoken, as not only are the children too busy with their electronic devices to actually engage in face to face contact, so too are their parents. At what point did we cross the line from using technology as an advantage in certain situations to complete dependence?
This is the reality that writer Gary Turk hopes to draw attention to in his spoken word video ‘Look Up’. Having uploaded it to YouTube in April 2014, the video has now been seen over 61 million times. Not only is its content still relevant, but many would also argue that it is more relevant today than it was at the time of its creation. In the video, Turk calls out society for our dependence and addiction to our electronic devices, allowing them to stand between us and the real world. He points out that far too often we rely on our online ‘friends’ for companionship while we are actually neglecting the real connections, the meaningful connections, that exist around us.
His powerful words are relatable to far too many of us. It calls on us to step back and acknowledge all that we may be missing out on in the real world by losing ourselves in the virtual ‘life’ that we created. Turk advises: “So look up from your phone, shut down the display. Take in your surroundings, make the most of today. Just one real connection is all it can take to show you the difference that being there can make.”
The irony of the video, however, is that its popularity and success rely on the very thing that it speaks up against. This wasn’t lost on Turk, with the final line of the video stating, “Look up from your phone, shut down the display. Stop watching this video, live life the real way.”
Check out Gary Turk’s powerful video for yourself: