How People Ignored Each Other Before Smartphones

Photo of family on front porch reading, gazing away, not interacting

How people ignored each other before smartphones

I came across this great image on Twitter (via @SBartner) yesterday, from the That is Priceless blog by Steve Melcher. Beyond giving me a chuckle, it reminds us that people have always had an ability to be together and not talk to one another (and who says that’s always a bad thing?).

And it reminded me of an image from a post I made one year ago that featured the negative impact of another technology on social interactions.

I would love to see any other images that continue this theme. If you have any, please share them in the comments.

As noted on Steve’s blog, the original painting is by Peder Severin Kroyer. Thanks to Laura Gibbs for her help identifying the painting, The Hirschsprung family, before I knew about the Steve Melcher’s original blog post.

There are many other funny technology-captioned paintings on the That is Priceless. Check them out!

7 thoughts on “How People Ignored Each Other Before Smartphones

  1. Hi Nancy. That’s a great image! I also like xkcd’s comic about the “pace of modern life” and the lost art of letter writing. Not quite an image, more of a text-based comic, but still an excellent reminder of how moral panics about new technology and communication are as old as the written word!


  2. Hi Nancy,

    I’m glad you enjoyed the “Smartphones” painting! Unfortunately, it was never properly attributed by @SBartner, but actually came from my blog, That Is Priceless, which is also a book and syndicated at

    Here’s the site:

    And here are a few more of my “Masterpieces” along the same lines. Hope you enjoy!


    Steve Melcher


  3. Steve, what a wonderful concept for a blog. I love what you’ve done. I tried finding the post that you did with the painting that I’ve featured here, but I couldn’t seem to find it. If you send me the link to that, I’ll edit my entry so it’s properly attributed to you. I feel strongly about giving credit where it’s due


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