A public space is generally defined as a place that is open and accessible to everyone. A place in which people gather and ‘socially engage with each other’ but with the rise of smartphones people seem to have forgotten that. Now instead of meeting people and observing your surroundings you can stay in your comfort zone, talk to people you already know and play Candy Crush.
On a crowded commuter train in San Francisco, a man shot and killed 20-year-old student Justin Valdez. As security footage shows, before the gunman fired, he waved around his .45 caliber pistol and at one point even pointed it across the aisle. Yet no one on the crowded train noticed because they were so focused on their smartphones and tablets. – Are Smartphones Turning Us Into Bad Samaritans? By Christine Rosen
Ms. Rosen then goes on to discuss the major problems facing our new screen obsessed society. Not only has our awareness been lowered but our duty to others as well and “the ease with which we can record and send images, which encourages those of us who are paying attention to document emergencies rather than deal with them.” Smartphones have blurred the lines between public and private spaces and in the process destroyed the notion of ‘civility‘.
“Smart phones, in short, have given users the impression that they move through communal spaces as if in private bubbles. “They feel that everywhere they are, they have their privacy.” Smart phones have created portable private personal territories.” – How Smart Phones Are Turning Our Public Places Into Private Ones By Emily Badger
Tali Hatuka, who heads the Laboratory for Contemporary Urban Design at Tel Aviv University and colleague Eran Toch have found that “to smart-phone users the social norms of the physical world are often trumped. They’re becoming less important. All of this means we may need a concerted campaign to keep the “public” in the public sphere, to actively encourage people to observe and interact with each other. We may even need to redesign our public places to do this.” It has even been harmful to the users, as people have actually been injured due to using their phone while walking down the street and others have even fallen into fountains. So why has this become a social norm?