Dear Ms. Smartphone: Whenever I’m out in public everybody around me is staring at their phones. This happens out in nature, in class, and anywhere people have the opportunity to open an app. When I don’t look at my phone and just think about things I feel like I’m the odd one out. Is there a way to quell this feeling? Will people ever change or only get worse? Benjamin, Cambridge
Dear Benjamin, There is no doubt that phones have changed our social relationships; in an earlier post I noted that we are closer to those who are further away, and farther from those close by. The other factor is that smartphones are the modern swiss-army knife. We use them to snap pictures, light up the dark, record voice memos, and count our footsteps.
There is a movement afoot (no pun) to limit phone use, and you might want to check out groups in the Cambridge area that are like minded. You could also frequent bars and restaurants that insist patrons use a Yondr bag, or simply find a sport or exercise, where phones are taboo- scuba anyone?
But seriously, you are not alone! About 40% of young people ages 16 to 24 say they feel lonely, compared with just 27% of people over age 75. It might be something about youth itself, and they happen to conflagulate those feelings with phones.