‘I Forgot My Phone’ film shows how much we love our phones, but is that really so bad?

youtube i forgot my phone video misguided

A recent report says we spend an average of two hours and 40 minutes each day looking at a smartphone. That doesn’t mean making calls, but using apps and browsing the Web. Spend that amount of time staring at anything, and it’s inevitable it’ll happen in the company of other people. We’ve all done it. Checked our email in a restaurant, Instagrammed a picture of the food when it arrived, or checked a fact during a conversation only to be drawn into reading more instead of contributing verbally. It’s no secret our lives are being affected by our obsession with smartphones.

However, never before has this phenomenon been portrayed so poignantly as in the short YouTube film I Forgot My Phone. Despite only being online for a few days, it’s already been viewed more than 10.5 million times. Ironically, YouTube’s statistics show that the site gets a billion views per day from mobile devices, so a lot of those people watched it on their phone.

The short film, written by and starring actress Charlene deGuzman, shows groups of people in various social situations, the majority of which are utterly engrossed by their phones instead of the world around them. Whether it’s taking in a spectacular view, holding a conversation with friends, or innocently enjoying a swing, the phone takes precedence over real life. It’s depressing because we’ve all seen it, and sad because to a certain extent, we all do it.

So, that’s it. The world is finished and society as we know it is crumbling.

Hold on a minute, though. We’re getting carried away here. This film shows people using smartphones, not shooting heroin. Though I Forgot My Phone is true, it’s also overwrought, and shows a hyper-real vision of everyday life. We don’t all act that way, but it does make many of us stop and think about the amount of time we spend on our phones, and how little we listen to what Dave, Susan, or Frank has to say. If that’s you, stop it. If you’re thinking about your friends at this point, chances are you’re not an ignorant moron who goes to a bar and checks Twitter all evening. You probably listened to your mom when she said, “Everything’s fine in moderation.”

If, on the other hand, you’re wholeheartedly agreeing with the film’s sentiment, then there could be another problem, and one that’s unrelated to smartphones. While I’m certain it’s not Ms. deGuzman’s intention, the lead character in I Forgot My Phone does come across as a bit of an attention seeker. She may as well be shouting “Look at me!” as she waves her arms around after knocking down a few pins at the bowling alley. And other than that … what’s so interesting about her, anyway? We’d be on our phones if we were at these events.

Then there’s the scene where everyone starts to check their phones during a conversation. We don’t hear what’s being said, but if they’re talking about that boring bowling alley story, we can’t blame them for seeing what else is happening in the world.

We get the message; it’s delivered in an interesting way. Maybe I’ll stare at people instead of my phone the next time I’m on the beach. But the world ain’t ending.

Blame television

Before the smartphone, the TV was accused of killing off our ability to enjoy each others company. Proof of the big-screen’s ability to hypnotize is perfectly illustrated by artist Olivier Culmann, who between 2004 and 2007 took hundreds of photographs of people watching television. I Forgot My Phone’s sadness is replaced by many creepy, frightening images of people staring, dead-eyed, at nothing at all. There’s no emotion, no engagement, and no movement in any of the pictures.

However, television has been around for nearly 100 years, and even with all the hand-wringing about its “dangers,” we’re still here and talking. In fact, the advent of social media on smartphones and tablets has even made the act of watching TV more inclusive. If Culmann took his photos today, many people would be holding one of these devices, and probably posting a picture on Instagram of him photographing them.

In the same way TV hasn’t stopped us from seeing the world, chatting with friends, or going bowling, smartphones won’t either. They’re still a relatively new invention, and our obsession will inevitably fade. Humans have been around for a lot longer than phones and TVs, but our need to communicate with each other has only grown. Yes, we probably all need to moderate our use when we’re with friends or in places like the cinema. But please, let’s not demonize this amazing tool and the new world it opens up, just because some people would rather the attention it receives was lavished on them.


The Cat S48c is the phone for construction workers, or the clumsy

The Cat S48c is a rugged smartphone that's available from Sprint. It mixes midrange specs with a huge battery wrapped in an extremely tough and protective body. If you need a phone that can survive the construction site, then this is it.

HMD Global confirms which Nokia phones will definitely receive Android Pie

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.

These patent images may show the new Moto Razr folding phone

The Motorola Razr V3 is one of the world's most iconic phones, and it could be making a stylistic return in the form of a foldable Motorola smartphone -- but it may cost around $1,500. Is the nostalgia worth it?

Get $100 discount on the Razer Phone 2 for a limited time

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.

With weeklong battery life, the new Honor Watches are a real Dream to wear

Honor has unveiled the new Honor View 20, one of the best smartphones of the year. Alongside it, however, the company also took the wraps off of the new Honor Watch Magic and Honor Watch Dream.

2019's 10 best dating apps to help you find the perfect companion

Everyone knows online dating can be stressful, time-consuming, and downright awful. Check out our top picks for the best dating apps, so you can streamline the process and find the right date, whatever you're looking for.

Photograph your meal with the Foodvisor app for caloric, nutritional estimates

Many of us understand the importance of a healthy diet, but counting calories and diving into nutritional data is a lot of work. The Foodvisor app for Android or iOS gives you a calorific and nutritional breakdown of your food from a photo.

Moschino glams up the 48-megapixel Honor View 20 at Paris launch

After its success with the View 10 in 2018, Honor has announced its sequel, the Honor View 20 with an entirely new type of display which has a hole-punch for the camera rather than a notch.

10 top features you should be using on your Apple Watch

The Apple Watch can do more than just tell you the time, but you may not be aware of all the different functions it has. Our list of the 10 most often used functions and features will help you understand what it can really do.

Get your photos on billboards with Apple’s 2019 ‘Shot on iPhone’ program

Like previous years, Apple has once again launched its Shot on iPhone program, which encourages users to submit the best photos they've taken with their iPhone. Ultimately, the winners will get their photos featured on billboards.

Embrace your inner Dr. Frankenstein with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and this cool app

Ever wanted to make your favorite toy come alive? If so, and you have a Huawei Mate 20 Pro, then you need to grab the 3D Live Maker app and try out some augmented reality magic. Here's how to use it.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus photo leaks with dual front-facing camera

It won't be long now; With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.
Social Media

Google will begin shutting down the classic Hangouts app in October

Google confirmed that it will begin retiring the classic Google Hangouts app in October. The company will start by pushing users to move to the new Google Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet.