Are smart phones really all they’re cracked up to be, or are they making us lazy?
As an aspiring journalist, I every so often feel the urge to acquire a smart-phone. This one-phone-fits-all, pocket sized device would allow me to email, tweet, research and record on the move. It means, for millions of people, no need to phone in copy or reports from a hotspot, you can simply tweet or write from wherever you are and up it goes.
But, and I realise I’m sounding more and ore luddite as the year progresses, do these phones really help, or are they making us lazy? And are they taking the fun out of our lives?
Apart from the mundane issues, such as cutting pub chit-chat (no more wondering who scored which goal in what cup final, just google it) or killing family gatherings (everyone sat around the table playing angry birds). What about the adventures of taking a wrong turn and ending up in an undiscovered part of town, or actually having to search for an out of the way bistro rather than clicking ‘nearest to me’ on your time out app. The mobile phone (yes that’s right, I am developing technophobia as we speak) has tolled yet another death knell for punctuality. Why meet under the clock at exactly eight when you can call and say you’ll be ten minutes late, go on and I’ll catch you up?
And what about the time when, shock horror, your phone dies? No battery, no reception, how will I contact anyone? Most pay phones in my area of London are now emergency only, you cannot even call the operator to make a reverse charge call.And who, in all honesty, carries a phone book with them any more?Soon, without the aid of my mobile phone I’ll probably forget my own phone number, my house phone, and even where I live.
Following some people around central London on a Saturday night, faces lit up by the blue glow of their sat-navs, I wonder if they even know where they are. At the demonstration last weekend there were two ways to find out where the hottest action was, following the sirens or looking at the BBC app. Everyone wanted to smash vodafone, but they needed their blackberries to coordinate it all.
There is a plethora of apps out there these days with no ostensible use. WHo wants a gay-dar app, really? Or an i-poo app so you know who else is using the toilet at the same time? A restaurant bill app, isn’t that called a calculator? And sure, I want to know what all the stars look like, and the names of the constellations, but the fun is in the knowledge and the learning, you can’t show off if everyone knows it was app-ed in the first place.
Don’t get me started on sat-navs.
Apps simplify things, this is true, but what is so good about simple. No-one ever told Mozart ‘Hey, lovely symphony, but maybe if you simplified it, you know, stripped down, less notes’. Who wants to be simple? Sure, if you really want to know your way around London, fumbling in an A-Z every five minutes will make you look lost and, in the rougher parts, possibly a target. But at least if you have an A-Z you may have learnt at least part of the route beforehand. With an i-phone you look like a target with money.
All this isn’t to say I would never get a smartphone. But I wish to be wary of them. As of this year I have a laptop, ostensibly to allow me to study, and to have a computer when I travel, move, want to be out in the garden. But even that has taken too much of my recent life. Right now I can see end of day sunshine, and I’m sat inside checking my twitter and ranting. Why, why, why! I have managed to cut down on the 4am bedtime peep-show marathons, and I now only check twitter in the afternoons, but I need more rules. And until I can control that there should be no smartphone for me.
If I do bow to the inevitable pressure, I will have to get a blackberry, or at least limit my apps. Work based apps only. And angry birds.