Photographer Eric Smith was taking photos off the Redondo Beach pier when he saw a breathtaking sight: a humpback whale and her calf were swimming off the shore. It's a sight that many pay for the opportunity to witness. So imagine Smith's surprise when he noticed a man in the background of his photographs, staring at his smartphone, oblivious to the whales only feet from his boat. 

As shocking as this photo might look initially, one could also argue that it is an apt portrayal of today's society. It seems that we are all too busy with whatever is happening on the phone to take the time to connect to what is happening in front of us, even on a dinner date. The phenomenon of "smart phone addiction" has sparked multiple studies, including one that found the average person checks their phone 35 times a day. If you sleep an average of 8 hours every night, that is a little more than twice every hour. While calling it an addiction sounds laughable, the impulse is much the same as a gambler's addiction to a slot machine. A user feels compelled to check every update and incoming message, hoping "this will be a good one." Some have found the compulsion so strong, the only way they can avoid checking their phone while driving is to lock it into the trunk of the car.

But addicts aside, how much of a problem is this? A recent Time survey reveals just how integrated our smartphones have become to all other aspects of our lives. The majority of respondents from various countries felt that mobile technology has made their countries more efficient in business, but the evidence would suggest that this happens at the expense of their personal lives. 35% of respondents from the United States said they used mobile technology while playing with their children, and 35% of respondents from the UK admitted to using their phones while at a party. Do we value telling others about a great day we're having via mobile applications over experiencing it happen? 

What is your reaction to this photo? Do you believe smart phones are helping us stay better connected, or are we too obsessed? Let the rest of the SF Globe fans know you thoughts in our comments section.