Look Up – Smart Phones, Dumb People

 In Digitox

This article was first published on my CultureTransform blog on 13th May 2014

Like 35 million other people, the YouTube video “Look Up” struck a chord with me last week. I’ve posted a link to the the video at the bottom of this blog.

Having also watched the BCC documentary “Blurred Lines” investigate whether women are being subjected to more sexism in our culture, and having a number of tweets from Everyday Sexism….we decided to increase the ‘draconian’ measures in our household.

We’ve had a 7pm curfew on technology for quite some time (although homework for  the children has been known to extend that) – but for the last few weeks we’ve been dropping out of the (dis)connected world for Sundays too.

We still have the TV, and the radio – but the phones, tablets, web browsers, and even Minecraft are not not allowed. It’s just for one day – how hard can it be?

This is not without it’s problems, my eldest is nearly fifteen, and we have three others at twelve, ten and four. Removing their technical umbilical chord causes some ‘discussion’ – but so far we’ve stuck with it.


Last Sunday, they raided cupboards in the house, found Nerf guns and all four set off to the local park to play some variant of ‘Cowboys, Indians and Aliens’ which one later referred to as a “first person shooter, but real”………tragic.

But they spent time creatively, thinking up new things to do and generally having a heck of a lot more fun than when glued to a screen. Although they did get a wet, dirty and bruised. Shame.

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‘Look up’ has equal weight in corporate life too. 

Ignoring generational generalisms – most of the people I work with have a smart device glued to their hands (myself included), and although they can be used for work purposes, they also provide an innovational and emotional straightjacket if never put down.

Sitting in meetings, at conferences, even at your desk while looking down all the day will constrain your ability to think, socialise and make new connections – and it’s bad for your health.

I’m not advocating removing the gadgets from our professional lives, just taking a break every now and again. Go and make eye contact with real people, walk, discuss, debate. Don’t reach for the gadget to find the answer – ask those around you for their opinions.

We are losing the ability to build real relationships with real people, and this is starting to impact on the ability to collaborate and socialise within the workplace too.


Try this experiment. When you get home tonight, park all the gadgets. See if you can spend  the evening without them. See what happens. 



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