Suspect Device

It’s funny how ideas can collide.

Reading somewhere that ‘mobile phones are killing street photography.’ That was the quote that really kick started this book. I’d noticed just how many potential subjects for street photography seemed to be on the phone, so why not make that a subject in itself? Which leads to active looking. Which leads to connections.

What I was observing began to resonate with articles I had read about the dangers of smart phone addiction, the impact of social media on your people and the way our ‘always on’ society is changing all of us. I began to feel as though my eyes had been opened to a parallel reality. A world unrecognisable from the one I had known just a decade before. Mobile phone use was so pervasive, so continuous and so all consuming it was, in my new capacity as an observer, surreal. What I saw made me think of the imbalance in our lives Simon Sinek has spoken about, with that stand out quote, “If you wake up and check your phone before you say good morning to your girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse you have an addiction.’ It was a stand out quote to me because it described my own behaviour.
I have since bought an analogue alarm clock.

Professionally many of us are device dependant. Socially, those little dopamine hits we get each time we receive a text, a like or a comment are addictive. It’s the exact same chemical reaction created by smoking, drinking and gambling.

Over the last two years, in parallel with much of this project, I have been working with Spitalfields Crypt Trust in Shoreditch – a charity dedicated to helping people to recover from addiction. It’s an honour and humbling to have met a people who have had the courage to overcome addiction, often in the most challenging of circumstances.People who are marginalised and very often misunderstood by our society.People who eventually had to stop, take a look at themselves and recognise that ultimately they must take responsibility for behaviours which are self destructive.Perhaps we can all learn from them, focus on the things that make us truly happy and take back a little control?

Roj Whitelock | January 2018