South by Southwest (SXSW) here in Austin draws artists, musicians, thought leaders and many others just looking for a good show from around the country. In addition to the music, there's SXSW Film and SXSW Interactive, and I found that last part interesting because as I walked around downtown this week, I saw so many people... not interacting. Instead, it looked like they came all the way to Central Texas to be on their phones.
This isn't just a SXSW thing, but it certainly stood out. Enough so, that I decided to make it the foundation for my first street photography series in quite a while.
In several cases, festival goers actually walked into one another because they were all looking down at their phones instead of taking in all the excitement taking place around them.
We all want to connect and often our smartphone seems like the easiest and certainly fastest way to get connected to so much that's out there. But while we're looking out there, we miss a lot of what's happening right here around us too.
What conversations are we going to miss? Who are we going to miss the chance to meet? Henry Miller wrote about roaming the streets of Brooklyn and New York, putting himself out into the universe to see what happens. How much more difficult does that become if everyone's looking down at their phone?
I certainly don't have any answers and I don't think it's all the smartphone's fault. It does raise some questions about where we are as a society though, and where we want to be going.
So, trend setting SXSW festival and conference goers... maybe we shouldn't make this one a trend. Just a thought. I hope you enjoy your stay in Austin.