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May Wilkerson May Wilkerson

Photos: What Your Smartphone Addiction Looks Like

A London photographer captures stark images of people interacting with their phones while in the presence of others.

8 Substance

Most of us are guilty of this: staring into our smartphone screens, communicating with digital networks even as three-dimensional companions are just inches away. London-based photographer Babycakes Romero has been documenting this phenomenon on film, in a black-and-white series he calls “The Death of Conversation.” The photos illustrate what we lose when we become distracted in our devices, impervious to potential in-person interaction.

“I have nothing against technology at all,” Romero tells The Washington Post, “but I feel like it’s starting to affect social cohesion and we need to know when to switch it off—or else we will become permanently switched off from each other.”

Not himself a smartphone owner, Romero says the devices have become “the ultimate social prop,” whereas “previously the only available social props were cigarettes and alcohol, but they helped social cohesion, not hindered it.” All of the photos depict two or more people. What he wants to capture are “simply situations that if smartphones didn’t exist they would most likely be talking.”

Check out the startling series, below, though perhaps not from your smartphone: