Not since a conductor on a passing train kicked some dude in the head for taking a selfie too close to the tracks has there been such a conclusive indictment on the way we use smartphones now.
A new animated short created by China Central Academy of Fine Arts gets straight to the most pertinent problem with smartphone addiction, an epidemic of obliviousness. In “Life Smartphone,” people walk around with their necks craned to an unnatural gradient of curve, cycloptic eyes glued to the screen, as they lurch, zombie-like through whatever they’re supposed to be doing. Like many of us at our worst, these dummies constantly walk into things, failing to notice what they’re doing to each other or themselves. In this dystopian, Wall-E-type version of life, though, they don’t even get embarrassed afterward. (Unless perhaps they’re just tweeting about it without betraying any real-life reaction.)
The video is soundtracked, first and foremost, by the noises our phones make–the steady clatter of characters typed, the odd whoosh sound when a message is dispatched, and the ping when its received. The only other noises present are intrusive ones from the outside world, like fire truck sirens, which here play as sonic background, as easily ignorable as street musicians. Why heed the warning of a firetruck, though, when you’re wandering into a burning building to take a fire selfie?