collective isolation

It’s common knowledge that we are all addicted to technology. A significant chunk of our days are spent staring, scrolling and swiping screens. Our dependence on our digital devices has increased exponentially, in fact so much that being on our devices has superseded our need for human connection. This is both astonishing and alarming at the same time. 

It’s a fact that we humans crave social connections. But as these electronic superficial connections are replacing the genuine and tangible human connections that we are biologically wired for and are necessary for our overall well-being, it’s no surprise that a majority of people around the world are feeling more isolated and lonely than ever. 

To portray the physical disconnect that has become rampant in today’s world due to our digital devices, photographer Eric Pickersgill released a series of photos that he captured from day to day life but with one minor change — he removed all the electronic devices from the photographs. 

You can have a look at these photos here.

His project “Removed” that comprise of these photoshopped pictures aimed to showcase the addiction that we all have towards digital connectivity, social media and modern technology overall. This project was inspired by an observation that Pickersgill made once while sitting at a New York café:

Family sitting next to me at Illium café in Troy, NY is so disconnected from one another. Not much talking. Father and two daughters have their own phones out. Mom doesn’t have one or chooses to leave it put away. She stares out the window, sad and alone in the company of her closest family. Dad looks up every so often to announce some obscure piece of info he found online. Twice he goes on about a large fish that was caught. No one replies. I am saddened by the use of technology for interaction in exchange for not interacting. This has never happened before and I doubt we have scratched the surface of the social impact of this new experience. Mom has her phone out now.

These eye-opening photos are definitely a reminder to the majority of us who have become obsessed with our devices of our digital addiction. It’s important that we practice moderation when it comes to our usage of modern technology, and pay more attention to be physically present, especially when our loved ones are around us. 

A good way to start detaching from our devices is to commit to spending a certain amount of time every day away from technology. We can use that window of time either to take a walk in nature, meditate, read a book or talk to a loved one. In that way, we’ll not only train ourselves to be physically present without any digital distractions but also spend time doing things that help us relax and rejuvenate. 

These photos remind all of us, whether we remain glued to our devices or not, that it’s so important to replace the faux connectivity that technology provides with physical presence and to cherish the moments that we get to spend with our loved ones, no matter what stage of life we are in. It’s wise to be someone who stays in the present moment and enjoy its beauty and rawness fully rather than finding ways to keep the mind either numb or distracted by technology.