Why 'Look Up' is just a load of nostalgic nonsense

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Whether you like poetry or not, you've probably seen or heard about Gary Turk's "Look Up" -- a video that laments Generation Y's constant lust for information from Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and other social media on mobile devices.

Since being uploaded to YouTube on 25 April, Look Up has racked up over 29 million views and divided opinion across the net as to whether we're drowning ourselves in a pool of useless notifications, or actually an empowered and more socialized society due to our circles of Internet friends.

Turk makes his point through a sentimentalized love story, where the male protagonist meets his future wife asking her for directions, having seemingly ignored Google maps and opted for a -- clearly far less dangerous for our future well-being -- printed map for directions. We then see an alternate outcome where he stares down at his phone and she walks past.

Many have picked up on the irony of Turk's offering. The virality of Look Up entirely contradicts the message held within, since the prime reason for its rapid spread is those "looking down" at their mobiles and sharing.

Some pointed out how our beloved map-reading Luddite might just as well have been messaging his future wife on Tinder, rather than accosting unsuspecting women in the street.

If "looking down" is indeed a problem, then it's rife within the modern BYOD office. The mobile worker can pick between a plethora of devices to gets things done.

Cloud-based work processes have streamlined traditional information management and data processing, and social media even has its place within the workplace.

Even established enterprise software providers, such as SAP, now offer specifically work-oriented social media. But does WhatsApp make us lonelier than when we used fax machines? Doubtful.

My main issue with Turk's argument is its misplaced nostalgia for a time when people talked to each other in the street and made small talk at bus stops. Sorry mate, but I'd wager that that hasn't happened in London for a very long time. Before iPhones it was the Walkman. Before Walkmen, it was the book. Before books it was... well books have existed longer than bus stops, but you get the gist. With Facebook Messenger I can have all my friends at my fingertips if I'm out on my own, whereas without it I merely have millions of detached strangers walking past.

Likewise, with LinkedIn and Twitter, I can maintain an extended professional network so that work extends beyond the company intranet. Each day I can break through the four walls of the office, so to speak, just by sending out a tweet.

I am no longer a cog in a machine -- I'm a cog within a grid of machines, all within the same industry, working towards a common goal.

So rather than look up, I'd suggest we look past. Look past this obsession with reclaiming the good ol' days of paper 'n' ink, cassette tapes and Microsoft Encarta, and use the incredible devices we hold in our hands to further ourselves, our understanding, and our connection with others.

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