by Tom Kaneshige

The Loneliness of Today’s Mobile Culture

Aug 27, 20132 mins

If you've ever felt isolated among your smartphone-obsessed friends and family, you're not alone. In fact, a new video from My Science Academy captures that feeling of isolation. Senior Writer Tom Kaneshige weighs in on whether mobile devices connect us or sentence us to solitary confinement.

Ever feel like an invisible stranger among friends who are staring intently into their phones? Or perhaps you’re the one doing the staring. These feelings are common in today’s ultra-connected world.

To illustrate the point, My Science Academy put together a two-minute video called “I Forgot My Phone.” In the video, a young woman makes her way through the day surrounded by people on their phones.

Here’s the video:

Three years ago, I wrote about the dangers of this emerging culture of self-imposed solitary confinement when visiting the UCLA campus and observing students there. My article, The Lonely Life of an iPhone Addict, cites a Stanford study that found one out of four students describes the iPhone as “dangerously alluring.”

The Fine Line Between Alluring and Addicting

It seems we’ve reached a saturation point where “alluring” for the few has become an “addiction” for the many. Soon it will be for the masses, with more than a billion new smartphones expected to ship just for business use over the next three years, according to an IDC report.

The sad part about the “I Forgot My Phone” video is that almost everyone can relate to being both the young woman and her friends. It’s an odd feeling to be in a company of friends or with your significant other in a social setting yet still feel utterly alone. It’s also an odd feeling to go 30 minutes without checking your iPhone.

Slideshow: 15 iPhone Apps That Changed Our World

Advocates of the mobile culture will argue that we are not alone—the phone is merely the new way of socializing. Mobile phones and social networking apps have brought people together, connecting us to friends, family and people we’d otherwise never have met before.

Where do I stand? Nothing beats the real thing. While smartphones have their vital place in society, the person or people in front of you share in your moment of living. I just need to remember that when my iPhone vibrates with a text message.

Tom Kaneshige covers Apple, BYOD and Consumerization of IT for Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn. Email Tom at