Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dumb Phones

I love my smart phone.  I really do.  But I think smart phones are making us dumb.

In my office, the iphone reigns supreme.  I think this is largely due to my company designing iphone apps from time to time, but I could be wrong. 

I resisted getting one for a long time.  I still feel to a degree that a smart phone is just one more electronic leash.  But I caved not quite a year ago, and the additional functionality (games, weather, email) have sunk their teeth into me.  I’m a convert.  Smart phones are great.

But I still think they are horrible at the same time.

At work, people are literally glued to their smart phones.  People will attend meetings.  Meetings where the purpose is to talk face-to-face with other people.  This rarely happens.  Instead, people talk forehead-to-forehead, since their heads are tilted down so they can look at their smart phones while they talk.  Why bother at that point?  We could all just be on a conference call and never have to leave our desks, except to get food, drink, visit the restroom and commute.

At social occasions, people get distracted by their phones.  Facebook and twitter beckon.  Are our digital friends more important in absentia than our friends standing mere feet away?  I guess we’d have to look up from our phones to know that.

I’m not casting stones.  I’ve been guilty of these things from time to time.  But really, aren’t our smart phones supposed to improve our communications?  Instead, it seems like we get less valuable information in higher quantities and more frequently. 

If over half of communication is non-verbal, I’m beginning to think that humanity is hosed.  Or maybe we’re just evolving.  Not sure if it’s into the humans from Wall-E (chair-bound and screen-dependent) or Ghost in the Shell (brain connected to the web).  Guess time will tell.

1 comment:

  1. It is definitely Ghost in the Shell. While we may look like the people from Wall-E, once people can abandon their bodies they will.

    I hate to say it, but I feel that a lot of how people interact in based upon respect. If people are talking while clicking around on their phone, they don't respect you enough to spend the time actually talking to you. If people are on the phones while "listening", the same thing goes. Most people at my company now have smart phones, but you won't see them ever pulled out during meetings or the like.

    For me, the same goes with friends. The only time I pull out my phone is to check the time or look up some information because we are having a discussion.

    I guess I was also a dumb phone user for a long time. I only got my smart phone last year and I've refused to let it be a leash. My work email isn't on my phone and while I usually have it on me, I will gladly let a call go to voice mail instead of picking it up because it would be socially rude to do so.