If anyone could illustrate a whole generation, London-based artist Ajit Johnson may have just done it.
In a poster series called #This_Generation, Johnson created minimal designs that humorously reflect millennials' reliance on technology. So what does that look like? A lot of "connecting" without really connecting.
"Everyone Skyping instead of meeting face to face (when there is an opportunity) and texting instead of having a real conversation," Johnson told Mic. "You see friends hanging out for lunch and texting or Snapchatting with other people, ignoring the people right in front of them. It's a common scene at the dinner table of every house."
Johnson isn't a technophobe, acknowledging that technology is a boon to all our lives. But, as the series suggests, it also can disconnect us. That double-edged sword is evident in countless studies that have found the more time we spend on Facebook, some of us feel more connected while others show depressive symptoms. Today, 24% of teens are online "almost constantly," while 92% go on daily, according to a survey released Thursday from Pew Research Center.
Spending that much time plugged in affects our relationships in a huge way — about 82% of young adults text their romantic partner multiple times a day, according to Time. As Johnson's posters suggest, modern relationships are essentially filtered through our smartphones, from the first date to our Facebook statuses. While it's convenient and even fun, mediating the bigger conversations like conflicts and apologies through technology may leave us feeling dissatisfied.
But Johnson's series hopes to poke fun at our weirdest habits — changing our profile pictures as much as our underwear? — while also re-evaluating how all of the technology afforded to us actually gets used.
"This series does not imply that we need to stop using technology," Johnson said. "But rather use it for the right purpose at right occasions." As in, put the phone down when you're actually talking to a human being next to you.