Get smart or get a smartphone..

May 5, 2012 5:59 pm

Imagine a world without smartphones. It wasn’t so long ago, in fact only 20 years, that they were just a figment of a genius imagination, but now we’re seemingly unable to live without them. But the question I want to put to you fine people is…are smartphones making us….well…dumb?

This fine specimen above, is the IBM Simon, first manufactured in Nevada in 1992. Looks good, doesn’t it. This beauty not only acted as a mobile phone, but also had a built in calendar, note pad, and emailing functions.  All you need when you’re on the go…surely?

Now take this bad boy. The Apple iPhone. It too, has a built in calendar, note pad, and emailing functions. All you need when you’re on the go. No? Oh well okay.

The emergence of the modern smartphone has been rapid, unyielding, and at times, just plain confusing. When did it become a necessity to run our lives via these magical machines? When could our dependence on information be appeased at the touch of a button at our very fingertips?

Take for example, my life. Could I get by without my smartphone? I’d like to think, yes. The harsh and daunting reality? No. I need it. It links together all the things that I hold dear, the people, the hobbies, the social circles, whilst in the case of my current predicament, it’s becoming vital in my search for a new vocation. The irony in this is that for those buggers that know me well enough, you’ll know that I, much like yourselves, would find things very difficult without smartphones, as well as a lot of the modern computer technology that we take for granted.

I woke up today to a Facebook message, two new mentions on Twitter, and an email request to join something called “LinkedIn”. A few years ago, I would’ve more than likely headed off to school and not looked at my phone until the end of the day. But today? Eyes still half closed, I replied to my messages and began to mindlessly scroll through Facebook to get to the last point in my life in which I checked it.

What was the point? It was 7am, most self-respecting people had been a-bloody-sleep.

But you do it, because it’s socially acceptable. It’s acceptable to send a tweet to people that are in the same room, substituting it in place of actual verbal communication. It’s acceptable to `like` a status of somebody sitting next to you, solely because you’d been talking about that very topic just moments before and it happened to subsequently then pop up on your news feed. It’s not only acceptable, but sometimes frowned upon if you don’t meet somebody on a night out that you kind of like, find them on a social networking site and send them a friend request the following day.

The phrasing I use in asking whether these devices could be making us “dumb” should not be taken literally. It’s more referencing the point that whilst writing this, I had to physically check on my phone (that’s right) the most fancy-sounding word that I could use to advance on the term “dumb”. Obtuse. That’ll do. Smartphones have so many functions that it’s difficult to find something that it can’t do. Scary really.

I’ll leave you with another scary thought. Just where do we go from here? It’s 2012 and we already have phones with a built in little robotic man or woman that organises our day for us. How long until this little robotic man or woman turns against us in a Will Smith in I Robot sort of fashion? I merely put it out there because you just don’t know.

One thing is for sure: It’ll be trending on Twitter when it happens.


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