Thursday, December 5, 2013

Life on a Smartphone

First off, the existence of tiny little computers that are also phones is an amazing thing. That just needs to be said from the start. It is an absolutely amazing time in technology—an amazing time to be alive. A world of information waits patiently in a pocket, until some pub debate spurs a trivia challenge; got a wager on the answer? Bring out the mobile. Not having to wait to get home to check emails has helped people land jobs and quick texts have made it possible for milk and nappies to come home without a second trip. Not to mention sharing video, promoting cool new businesses, and GPS conveniences. Smartphone technology is awesome.
But even as wonderful as it all is there are some new behaviours that have developed as a result of the widespread adoption of mobile usage, and not all of them are pretty.
As strange as this may sound, it's true. Though technologically more easily connected to friends around the globe, it is all too easy to get sucked into staring at a phone and ignoring the people you're sitting with. Look around and notice how many people are sitting together but staring at individual phones and only halfheartedly speaking to one another. At what point did common courtesy and the communion of eating together get ditched over the allure of the status update of someone you've never actually met in person? Being overly attached to a mobile also means the opportunity for chance meetings or impromptu conversations with strangers are also greatly diminished. Less connection in a far more connected world.
Photo Frenzy
Phone cameras are absolutely brilliant inventions, there's no denying that. But it's become so commonplace to spend more time documenting life than actually living it. It's terrific that everyone's now a budding artist or documentarían but how about putting down the mobile and actually doing stuff for the sheer joy of doing it instead of stopping every two seconds to snap a pic? Plus when caught up in the moment there's a real habit of instantly sharing something that not all might want shared. Everyone has different privacy boundaries that are consistently trod on by well-meaning, yet overly enthusiastic photographers. And again, there's the disconnect of watching an event instead of actively participating in it.
Always On
Sure, parents want to be able to hear from the sitter and there are doctors and nurses on call. And then there's the rest of the world. If the mobile is constantly on and in hand it's something you might want to look at, particularly if you feel really stressed out. Being constantly bombarded by news and other peoples' status updates fills one's life with a lot of unnecessary noise. If having trouble sorting through anything in your own personal life first try to filter out some of the updates on everyone else's. Even if it's just a matter of taking your tea without technology, turn the phone off and hear yourself think.
Safety Last
In addition to lapses in courtesy, the incessant breaches in safety on mobiles is highly alarming. Many social media profiles are left wide open to public viewing, where some may post an image of their street address and then mention going on holiday. Seriously? Too, checking in to a location is just asking for a stalker to stop by. At no time should anyone post where they are and that they are alone. So why has this become such common practice, because everyone's doing it? Homes have gotten burglarized after posting images of expensive items and then giving an open announcement on when the home will be unattended. Remember when setting privacy settings on all social media that your mobile settings need to be checked, too. And try to be wise about telegraphing your movements on any given day.
Mobiles are marvelous. They aren't the problem. Yet technological advancements should never take the place of common courtesy, investment in life, or simple street smarts. There are simple ways to enjoy the benefits of mobiles but to also be sensible, empathetic and engaged. And until there's an app reminding of these things, it's still up to the humans to make it so.

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