Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Nothing like a good rant

By R.J. Harlick

Thinking of innovations, from the sundial to the online emoji generator, what would you most like to un-invent?

I know you are all going to squawk, shake your heads and tell me I am out of my mind, but there is one piece of technology I wish had never been invented. The SMART PHONE. That’s right, you heard me correctly. I can’t stand them or more particularly I can’t stand what they are doing to us.

When the cell phone or more correctly the mobile phone first came onto the market, I was reluctant to own one, because I didn’t want it deciding when I should be on the phone, like when I was driving, walking or any other activity not conducive to phone conversation. I knew if I heard its ring I wouldn’t be able to resist answering it. So I remained cell phoneless and limited my phone calls to my home and office phones.

Then the smart phone arrived with the appearance of the iPhone and changed everyone into phone zombies. Now most of you would say the smart phone has improved your life immeasurably, so much so that you can’t get along without it. And that I see is the problem.

Yes, there are many times when a smart phone’s capabilities are needed, but there are also many times when it is not. Nonetheless people still remain glued to their phones, necks bent, heads down, peering intently at the tiny screen, terrified they might miss out on something, like the latest twitter from Trump. You’ve all seen photos of people waiting at a bus stop, heads down, eyes focused on their phones, fingers clicking, totally oblivious to an accident unfolding in front of them. People seem to forget that there is a lot more happening around them than happens on their phone. 

I am currently vacationing in Ogunquit, Maine, at one of my favourite beaches, and was enjoying a walk with my husband last evening along the famed Marginal Way. Stopping to admire the ocean view, we sat down on a bench. On the neighbouring bench sat a woman too absorbed in her phone to notice the view. I asked myself why she’d even bothered to come.

Then there are the many times I have had the pleasure or not of listening in on phone conversations, because for some reason, most cell phone users feel they have to raise their voice to be heard. Unfortunately, not only does the person on the other end of the line get to hear her or his words, but so does everyone else.

Or what about restaurants? How many times have you seen people sitting at a table, clicking away on their phones, totally ignoring the person across from them. It’s almost as if the phone has become a good excuse not to talk to other people face-to-face. It’s more fun to text them.

I could go on with endless examples of the way smartphones are alienating people, isolating them in their own technological bubble, but I imagine you already know most of them, so I will stop my ranting.

As for whether I own a smart phone, you don’t need to be a brain surgeon to come up with the answer. But it’s not for the reason you would think. Nope. I don’t have a smart phone, because I love technology too much. I know if I had one, I would never put it down. I would become just as addicted as everyone else, right down to the bent neck.


Paul D. Marks said...

You're right about the smart phones, RJ. I finally gave in and got one and they do come in handy. And I do use it, but I don't use it much. And I always have to wonder if the people that are constantly on them, talking and texting, are curing cancer because whatever they are doing seems so important.

RJ Harlick said...

Nope, Paul, I doubt it is anything very important. I think they are just fiddling with their phones because they can't stay away from them. Glad I have one person agreeing with me. Thanks.

Terry said...

I so disagree. It isn't the phone that needs changing; it's people's behavior. But then, that's been true for all of recorded history. Why do we need rules of the road for automobiles? Because otherwise people would be ramming into each other, dressing while driving, running up onto sidewalks, etc.

Unknown said...

The smart phone has its pros and cons. The pros outweigh the cons for me right now. GPS, staying in touch with people, a calendar, a camera, audiobooks. It's made my life easier.

But shut it off when driving or having lunch with a friend or sleeping. Don't let it rule your life, and it should be okay.

I was at a crowded jazz fest a couple years ago, and looked around and wondered what was different about this picture. Then I realized nobody was looking at their phone, even during breaks. That was a nice throwback to the payphone days.

Gram said...

5 computers in the office, but a landline. There is a phone in the car for our emergencies, mostly turned off unless we are expecting a call. I want to use a phone at my convenience.

Anonymous said...

R.J. I'm with you, I would dump my smart phone in a second if not for the convenience. I call mine the STM (smarter than me) phone.

Love your books and your wit.

Rick Robinson said...

ABSOLUYELY! Do away with the damn things. Maybe people would look up and see the world they live in instead of a tiny screen. One in a thousand times there might be something worth doing on a smart phone, probably not that many. I have one (an old iPhone 4s). I use it as an alarm clock when I have to get up early. Otherwise it sits on a charger. It's probably been 3 weeks since I touched it, and never HAVE to have it.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

I so agree about the smart phone.

Debra Purdy Kong said...

Great post, Robin. I've had a smartphone for five or six years, but I've never found it that addictive. In fact, I'm likely to leave it in the house somewhere and forget about the thing until I decide to check for texts. I like (but don't love) technology, and sure, it would be difficult to live without it. but I'm not addicted to phones and probably never will be Same goes for my iPad:)

Unknown said...

Thw worst offenders in the ignoring who you're with are parents with children. I have the strongest urge to take away their phone. Children grow up and they're missing the journey. What could possibly be more important than their children.