I’ve been recently present in company of my colleagues for a week. My colleagues are all equipped with smartphones. Whenever and wherever we were doing something, it always ended up by half the people staring into their phones. Typically playing with them in some way as children like to do.
Well, we’re an IT company so some interest in computer devices can be expected. And I confess, I waste a lot of time with computers and I use to read newspapers while eating. But I don’t bring my computer nor my newspapers to dinners with my friends or colleagues. I hope I’m still sane enough.
Nevertheless it was a good opportunity to observe what the smartphones are used for in everyday life. They are typically used for: Taking snapshots of people and other objects. Presenting the snapshots to other people, typically in a chaotic way. Taking snapshots of dinner menu and other interesting documents. Taking notes. Sometimes reading the notes. Managing diaries. Finding out current location. Tracking locations of other colleagues. Finding out which way to take. Getting an idea what to visit. Participating in childish competitions (probably arranged for the purpose by their providers). Announcing that pizza is ready in the next room. Finding out what’s the outside temperature (based on data measured at a completely different place several miles away). Measuring angles (for no useful purpose). Buying and playing music and videos. Bothering other people by playing them the music and videos. Making and receiving phone calls (if it works). Finding out how to change washers in a tap. Passing the snapshots, notes, diaries, documents and information about where we are, what we are doing, what we are interested in, what we listen to and what and when we eat to other companies and people. Being instantly notified whenever there is new e-mail or other message, about each posted photo or when the pizza is ready.
It was a scary experience. The amount of information being transferred all the time to someone about each of us, whether a smartphone owner or not, is enormous. The devices are permanently disturbing their physical owners and all the people nearby. And we’re rarely able to talk without their assistance and supervision. They are quite close to the telescreens from 1984.
But what’s worse: Smartphones are our little gods. We adore them, we serve them, we sacrifice our relations, lives and freedom to them (and to those who control them). They may be one of the worst live changers since television conquered our homes.
I don’t reject TV nor smartphones, they may be useful tools which serve us. The problem is we often serve them instead. What’s the likely impact on the society and the lives of each of us?