When I was growing up in the 1950s, some kids I knew were always getting punished by teachers for what was then termed “fidgeting.” I had my own occasional problems with the condition, which occurred usually because I was bored. Since the 1970s, though, we've come to realize that some among us have real problems with concentration. It's an actual psychiatric disorder.
What, though, do we call it when something similar hits society as a whole? When our day-to-day activities, from simply walking down the street to engaging in the mechanics of our respective jobs, become secondary to our obsession with … say, our smartphones?
If you've seen the Spike Jonze movie “Her” (or “her,” which is how the movie actually spells it), you know that Jonze's screenplay takes us into a near-future, not-that-different world in which everyone seems to be more involved with his/her phone/laptop/etc. and its OS than with the people who are all around them. The richness of Jonze's movie is that nothing in it seems all that farfetched.
The essentials of “Her” can be found, perhaps coincidentally (but perhaps not), in today's Slice column by Paul Turner. My former colleague writes about recommending a 2006 movie to his sister-in-law but lamenting that she'll likely miss several key scenes “because she will be looking at the screen on one of her hand-held gadgets.”
I feel Paul's pain. An article I just read on my iPhone emphasizes how concerned we all should be.