readings (15)

1 May 2012

Let's have text...on how 'smart' phones have made us stupid.

Where I originated, they're called "mobile phones" or mobes for short and where I've ended up, "handy's", but let's not go there just yet.

Possibly where you are,  they're called "cell phones" or cells for short, but are they still and if not, what are they called now?

Doesn't it sound weird when someone asks 'have you got a mobile, cell, or handy?'  these days?
 Think about it.

Not so long ago it wasn't such an uncommon question, was it?
But now if you ask a youngster or even a WOTHOAP (way over the hill old age pensioner) that question, you get a look that suggests you've just come down from the trees (and possibly didn't even have the mental capacity to make the decision to do so either!)

These days, a 'normal' question would go more like a student of mine demonstrated recently.

She asked me whether I had a 'smart phone' to which I replied, 'well, sort of yes...'

...and after thinking about the question for a second, I added as a joke, 'well, it's a smart phone for stupid people,' which in my case is true! (I would never lie to my students...)

Giving it further thought, I'm lead to wonder what's so smart about a 'smart phone' and does it do what it claims?

In short, is modern telecommunication technology rendering us stupid, or more to the point, is having text all we think about?

Think about it.

What are the 3 things you NEVER leave home without - keys, money, phone?... I'm sure there are others, but let's keep it simple here.

To me, the first two on the list make some kind of sense in a 'survival of the species' way - keys for shelter and money for food...

...but phone?

Alright, so we're a social, group-minded species of ape and the need to communicate with others has been the subject of study in numerous social science and psychology fields, but would we die if we didn't have a smart phone? 

Here's the question then - would you rather have text than eat?

As evolved apes, our main purpose is still very much based on our instincts to survive and re-breed which still means eating, sleeping and copulating (another handy list of 3!) and although communication ranks high on the list of necessities, I'm sure you'd agree that not talking and not eating are at completely opposite ends of the park when it comes to survival.

So, back to my original question - are 'smart' phones rendering us stupid?

Think about this.

You end up in a jungle, desert, mountain top, some run down back-water, or a far corner of the Mall you've never been in before and don't know where to find the local tourist office.
'Not to worry', you think, 'I've got my 'smart' phone and it's got Apps!' 
Super smart phone to the rescue!
So, you switch it on and wait, but nothing happens.
'Did I charge this thing before I left the house this morning?' you ask yourself.
'Better go find a docking station!' and as you grow more frantic and start doing the headless chicken routine, the keys in your pocket jangle.
'Phew!' you say 'least I REMEMBERED THEM! Now where the hell is that docking station?'

Hours later...

...still no docking station, still no Apps.

'Stupid smart phone!' you spit and throw it away... you ain't feeling too smart now....



  1. Yes, smart phones are most certainy rendering us stupid. My life has changed in so many ways since I got my first one last year. It made my other cell phone seem positively archaic. I blame my iPhone on reading less than I ever have in my life because it's so much more tempting to mindlessly surf the web or dink around on whatever App currently has my attention. I've actually written a post about one app in particluar that sucks a lot of my time up, but it wouldn't be published until 5/10.

    What do people say again about great minds? Oh yeah, they think alike ;)

  2. Hi Jeri and thanks so much for your comment!
    I haven't got an iPhone yet, but have been seriously thinking about getting one, especially since getting my Mac.
    However, after reading your comment, you've made me think again.
    Interesting what you say about reading less - hadn't thought of that and as for the 'dinking around' as you say, there's even a name for the pose people adopt when doing that. It's called the Preying Mantis (spell chack please!) position after that weird green creature - there was one in 'A Bug's Life' and I guess if you look around, you see a lot of people in this position : )
    Must read your post.
    Thanks again!