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“Smart” Phones: Turning America into a Nation of Electronically-Induced Psychological Zombies


By: David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, March 5, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - In September, 2013, 20 year-old Justin Valdez was shot and killed while traveling on a crowded train. The shooter, apparently picking him at random, shot the San Francisco University student in the back.

The most shocking part of this story is the inaction of all of the people surrounding Valdez and his assailant on the train. It seems the crowd of people were so engrossed in their smart phones, they had become oblivious to their surroundings, almost to the point of being electronically-induced psychological zombies.

According to a CNN report, “‘Some are no more than two to three feet to him,’ said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. ‘We’re seeing people that are so disconnected to their surroundings. This is not unique. People are being robbed, people are being hurt, people are being run over by cars because they’re so disconnected because of these phones.’”

Today's so-called “smart” phones may be smart, with their high speed internet connectivity, texting and ability to play full length feature movies, but they are inducing a new and dangerous level of “dumb” into their users.

Tethered to their electronic devices, for some over twelve hours a day, many adults and nearly all youth cannot seem to function without a constant electronic stream of data and imagery being fed through their eyes into their biological computer - the brain. While the brain is highly sophisticated, it does have drawbacks, it tends to filter out surrounding information when focusing on something directly within its field of view or concentration. This is what happened to the witnesses on that train as the gunman began displaying his intentions.

The CNN report goes on, “The security footage of the incident is chilling. The man, donning a baseball hat and smile, lifts a .45-caliber handgun in plain view, three or four times. He waves the weapon as if choosing who he wants to kill. At one point, he even wipes his nose with the gun. But nobody seemed to notice until the blast goes off.”

This type of reduction in situational awareness is common with users of cell and smart phones.

“There are two significant issues here: an almost total lack of situational awareness, and the willful disarmament of honest citizens by virtually every government that can get away with it,” wrote Mike McDaniel from the website, “Situational awareness is little more than being aware of one’s surroundings, thinking ahead, and asking ‘what if?’ It consists of continually planning, using the environment, and being ready to not only react to potential danger, but to recognize its approach and to avoid it.” McDaniels refers to this concept of awareness as, “Being in the Instant.”

“‘Being in the instant’ is the antithesis of smartphone zombiehood (Zombiness? Zombitude?). One must be absolutely focused, aware of everything around them, but allowing the mind to be empty, capable of action beyond reaction. This goes beyond merely paying attention, but that’s on the path, and the path continues while life endures. Learning how to pay attention, to be in the instant, is a constant struggle, but one does improve, and each level gained adds to the vibrancy and enjoyment of life, for most of us wander around in something of a fog, missing substantial portions of our own lives. Few devices contribute more to a lost, unexamined life than the smart phone.”



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