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Are smartphones making us awful people?

Smartphones Public Use

If you don’t think smartphones have changed the world, you haven’t been paying attention… probably because you were too busy flipping between apps on your smartphone. People are more “connected” now than they have ever been before thanks to smartphones and the mobile Internet, but is all that connectivity causing us to lose our connection with the people around us? The Wall Street Journal contributor Christine Rosen explored that question in a recent essay, wondering aloud if smartphones are turning us into bad Samaritans.

Rosen cited a number of troubling events that have taken place over the past year — the shooting death of 20-year-old Justin Valdez on a commuter train in San Francisco that occurred when a man brandishing a gun went unnoticed because everyone’s heads were buried in their phones; an attack on a blind man in broad daylight in Philadelphia that went completely ignored by passersby; the death of a man who was shoved onto subway tracks and then hit by a train after no one made any sort of effort to help him. That final example was perhaps the most upsetting, since a freelance photographer took the time to take pictures of the tragic killing rather than make any attempt to assist the man. He later sold those photographs to the New York Post.

Would any of these tragedies have been averted if smartphones hadn’t done so much to sever our connections with those around us — and our obligation to help them? The short essay linked below in our source section is a provocative one, and it’s worth a read.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content.

Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment. His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.