Very strongly do I feel, that the smartphone is the most invasive and controlling invention that humans have ever created. We have become mindless slaves to the technology, and it’s a sad sight to behold.
Don’t get me wrong. I find my smartphone to be as invaluable as the next man (or woman), but one thing I don’t do is let it rule over me. Sadly however, most people do. The phone companies have us believe that a smartphone is the most essential and most important thing we can have in our lives, and as a society we tend to subscribe to this notion. I’d even go as far as to suggest that we’re lapping it up to such an extent that our addiction is well on its way to uncontrollable.
In his latest book (The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting), Philip Hensher points out how people’s interaction with their phones has changed. He recognises that not so long ago everyone carried their mobiles in their pocket, but now we carry them around in our hand and it’s affecting us greatly, especially when it comes to our interactions within the real world. Take a look around you the next time you’re out and about and you’ll see that the majority are walking around zombie-like with eyes down squinting at a screen, missing all that is going on in the world around them. It would be comical if it wasn’t so sad.
Worse still, is the extent to which mobile phone addiction these days has caused us to lose our connection with one another in the physical world. Not so long ago we used to go to cafes and restaurants to engage with each other. Now, we view these places more as technology pitstops, where the first thing we do on entering is pull out our phones, laptops, iPads etc, regardless of whether we are in company or not.
It really does sadden me beyond words when I see couples and friends sitting in a cafe together, so engrossed in their smartphones that they’re actually worlds apart. To me there’s nothing ruder than being with someone who seems more interested in their phone than they are with you. It does nothing but give the impression that you’re not important to that person; that they’d rather be somewhere else.
So dear friend, I ask that you think twice the next time you feel the urge to check your phone for the millionth time. Technology is a wonderful thing but it needs to remain a part of our lives, and not our lives in total. Never forget that we live in the real world not a virtual one, and in this world we’re gifted a higher grade of HD than any screen can offer. So please, put your phone away and watch a beautiful world going by in vivid detail.
And when you’re in the company of family, friends and colleagues, turn your phone off and give these people the respect and attention they deserve. You’ll feel a lot better for doing so, and you’ll earn their respect for having given them your undivided attention. It may be ‘no biggie’ these days to be ‘unfollowed’ in the virtual world, but when you lose a friend in the real world it hurts badly. Don’t risk it. Keep your smartphone hidden and spend the time you would have spend mindlessly spent scrolling, making your real world as interactive as your virtual one. You know it makes sense.
This post forms part of an incidental and on-the-spur observational essay series entitled Robservations. In these I endeavour to mainly stick to the subject of reading and writing, but in the spirit of Michel de Montaigne, and with much reverence for him, my thoughts will often be random, wide-ranging and inward looking (much like me as a person then :)).