At first glance, that number may seem impossible, but it accounts for every swipe, tap, click, and engagement on our phones daily. Still think it is impossible? Think about a typical stroll through the home feed of your Instagram account. Notice how many times you use your fingers to not only move through the feed, but also to like a picture, scroll back up to something you missed, see more comments, or comment on the post yourself.
In that 2-3 minute session that many of us make several times a day, you likely rack up hundreds of interactions with your electronic device. Now add that total to the time you spend on Facebook, Twitter, Pokémon Go, Pinterest, and every other app you use daily and suddenly that 2,617 number seems somewhat realistic.
While no one can deny the incredible and useful tool that our phones have the potential to be, are they beneficial to the point that such a high level of usage is justified? Or are these devices, initially designed to increase our connectivity, actually making us all more disconnected?
I’d like to share with you a beautifully shot short film, entitled Skinship, that explores this exact question. It showcases a world where human contact and interaction has become so scarce, that individuals pay just to be touched and connected with in even the simplest of ways.
While the world depicted within the film may seem quite far-fetched to some, the underlying themes are quite powerfully representative of our current world.
I personally was reminded of this just this past weekend while spending some time at a cottage in Tobermory, Ontario with my girlfriend. For those who don’t know, Tobermory is a small but gorgeous waterfront community, blessed with picturesque boulder beaches and heavily forested hiking trails.
While taking in the beauty of nature myself, I was stunned to see how many people were glued to their phones almost consistently. Whether they were attempting to catch Pokémon while on a trail, or seeing the latest on their favourite social media platform while sitting on the beach, everyone had their head slouched down and their hands on their phones.
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It was through seeing this that I not only reflected on my own attachment to my cellular device, but I also thought of how close we may just be to a world similar to that depicted in the film.
Curious to discover the inspiration behind Skinship, I asked the film’s writer, director, and producer Nichola Wong, and was surprised by the similarity in our experience:
‘Skinship’ was conceived on an idyllic beach in San Sebastian, where I found myself captivated by a group of twenty something Europeans, whose obsession with their devices rendered them oblivious to the beauty that surrounded them and also one another. I thought it was a shame, but I thought who was I to judge? I’d done the very same on many occasions. It was something that got me thinking about my own relationship with technology and I had observed at that time in my life that I was feeling very disconnected from myself with the increasing prevalence of technology in my day-to-day life. I continued to study this rising feeling of disconnection, identifying it ran through many levels, it was both physical and mental and something that took me away from the world and people around me.
I think the characters in the film embody my own constant struggle with trying to stay connected (in a human sense) in an increasingly technological world. I have felt the disconnect that arises out of being technologically over connected and on many occasions have longed for human contact, a hug, a touch, a human moment… it’s something innate and visceral.
The subject of the film is something I think about all the time and something that needs constant management in my day-to-day life. I think we need to make a conscious effort to stay connected in a human, non-technological sense. With technology becoming more and more ingrained into our daily lives and it being a cultural norm for the younger generations, I think it’s important to have an awareness of the negative consequences of technology and enforce balance, if not for our own sake than for our children.
I hope Skinship reaches out and reminds people of the need to rekindle connections and refocus our sidelined attentions on living.
Whether you believe we are destined for a largely disconnected world or not, let this article and film remind you to take time away from electronics daily. Make a conscious effort to connect with others and to enjoy the endless beauty that the physical world has to offer.
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