On Smart Phones and the Death of Conversation: A Photo Essay

death of a conversation

“I started to photograph people in company on their phones as there was a certain symmetry to them and it appealed on a visual level, but as I continued I noticed an inherent sadness to the proceedings,” writes Babycakes Romero, in his short introduction to his photo essay titled “The Death of Conversation.”

He compares the way people use cell phones now to the way cigarettes used to be a social prop, pointing out that though cigarettes posed a health threat, at least they didn’t tempt us to disconnect from each other like our smart phones do.

The photo essay is powerful, and sometimes humorous, as you see the exasperated look of a girl standing next to her two parents on their smart phones or a man’s mouth hanging open as he gapes at his phone. It points out to us the one thing we often don’t think about while we are using our smart phones–how is this affecting the people around us?

A similar project is the WE NEVER LOOK UP blog on Tumblr, which allows people to submit their own photographs of people looking at their smart phones. Both projects are a refreshing, if a little unsettling, reminder that we all too easily become tools of our technology and would do well to take a chance to look up and look around.


we never look up

From the “We Never Look Up” blog

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About the Contributor

Benjamin Robertson

Benjamin Robertson
Benjamin Robertson is a founding editor at Second Nature. He has worked in advertising for the Chicago Tribune and Gannett, and now is a web developer at Mediacurrent. He studied Communications and Media Studies under Dr. Read Schuchardt at Wheaton College in Illinois. He has presented papers on Marshall McLuhan, media ecology, and Christianity at the Media Ecology Association, National Communication Association, and the McLuhan's Philosophy of Media Centennial Conference in Brussels. He lives with his wife, Ruth, in Greenville, SC. His personal website is benrobertson.io


  1. At last, sonmeoe who comes to the heart of it all

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