During yet another journey down a late-night YouTube rabbit hole, I came across highlights of the London 2012 Olympics. Specifically Super Saturday, the night in which Team GB won three gold medals in athletics. My first thought on watching the highlights was one of panic. The London Olympics being 8 years in the rear-view mirror was a reminder of just how quickly time appears to be passing. The 2012 Olympics in my mind being only a few summers ago. The fact I was 15 years old at the time is a worrying one. My second thought was of watching the Olympic torch make its way through Cleethorpes.
The reason I remember the torches procession through Cleethorpes is as far as I’m concerned I was one of the very few people who actually witnessed it. Standing by the road it became apparent the torch was approaching. While I leaned out in an attempt to see the torch everybody around me reached for their pocket. Choosing to watch the torch pass not with their eyes but through the lens of their smartphone. Thanks to such people I was able to watch the torch pass through Cleethorpes in the comfort of my bed some 8 years later. I implore you to YouTube the torch making its way through Cleethorpes and see people recording rather than watching. The phenomena of people recording an event like this on their smartphone while missing what was happening right in front of them struck me as rather odd. A phenomena that in the years since has reared its head time and time again.
A further example of this phenomena came when I was visiting the capital. I happened to be in central London during the trooping of the colour. Watching the Queen ride by in her royal carriage was an unexpected treat. As Her Majestyrode by again people around me chose to film it. Looking at their smartphones and not at the Queen as she passed. Presumably with an aim to uploading it onto some form of social media or showing friends and family when they got home. Given the choice between some grainy photos on someone’s smartphone or a well-told story, I will always choose the latter. At times I can’t help but feel alone in thinking this way. Particularly in regards to people my own age.
It’s at this point I feel I should admit to owning a smartphone. Using my phone as an alarm it is literally the last thing I see at night and the first thing I hear in the morning. While queuing at the shops or waiting for a friend I do find myself idly scrolling through my Facebook feed. However, when my friend arrives my phone remains firmly in my pocket and they have my undivided attention.
The addictive relationships many of my peers have with their phones is comparable to smoking. This comparison became all too obvious last year. Drinking in a Sam Smith owned pub, where the use of phones inside is rightly in my view prohibited, friends of mine who didn’t smoke would nip outside with those who did. The dopamine hit of a retweet seemingly no different to the nicotine hit of a cigarette. The relationship of many with their smartphone is no different from a smoker and a fag. The only difference is I know of no smoker who sleeps with a packet of cigarettes.
While I know we’ve passed the point of no return and my dislike of phones in social situations is my own issue, to anyone reading this I make one suggestion. Next time you find yourself somewhere interesting. Perhaps standing in the Pontoon awaiting a last-minute corner keep your smartphone in your pocket. Watch it with your own eyes and not through a screen. That way when you meet up with friends you can tell them of the last-minute winner at Blundell Park rather than showing them a photo.
Some people feel the rain, others just get wet.
Article by Young Reporter Grant Clark
First appeared in Grimsby Telegraph 20th October 2020