Look Up video goes viral in ultimate social media irony

A SHORT film urging people to unplug from smartphones and social media has, ironically, taken the internet by storm, dividing opinions online as to whether it is thought-provoking or hypocritical.

Perhaps best described as "a little sentimental", the video shows writer and director Gary Turk reading a poem which orders people to "look up from your phone, shut down the display, take in your surroundings and make the most of today".

It has now been viewed more than 10.8 million times since it was posted on YouTube on 25 April, and has been shared by a number of hugely popular Twitter users including the British tennis player Andy Murray and the American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, who boast more than six million followers between them.

The film, which also includes a brief dramatised segment with a love story that "never happened" because one of the protagonists was looking down at his smartphone, seems to provoke a love-hate reaction for viewers.

Many have been hugely receptive, with tweets to Turk himself describing the piece as "excellent, brilliant, factual and emotional".

One user, identified as Lorelei Loveridge, wrote: "Thank you for this. So apt. Thank you so much," while another said: "I love this video, it's so true especially the line 'smart phone, dumb people'! I hope everyone gets to watch it."

Another commented on YouTube: "This short five minute video will change your life for the better; make time to watch it... please."

Turk himself acknowledges the irony of using a viral video to tell people to detach themselves from social media, with one line reading: "I'm guilty too of being part of this machine, this digital world where we are heard but not seen."

Yet bearing in mind the money to be made from seeing your content shared around the world, another user sarcastically wrote: "Hey @Gary_Turk , love your video making money off people on the internet trying to diss tech on the internet. Sheep."

YouTube user Brenneau1023 accused Turk of using a "cheesy poem" to present an "overdramatised strawman argument".

"Obviously the sole purpose of this video is to go viral and garner as much controversy and therefore Ad$ense revenue as possible in your 5 seconds of internet fame," the comment read.

"The hypocrisy is painful. Keep your straw men, we'll keep our technology thanks."

Taking what is perhaps best described as the moderate view, John Lynch wrote on YouTube: "This is a great poem about unplugging. A little sentimental. But there is nothing wrong with that from time to time."

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