The word “Smart-Phone” was coined in 1995 with the introduction of the IBM Simon. The versions of smart-phones that are now prevalent were not introduced until 2007.
Why all these statistics? Each time I go out, either in North America (Houston), Europe (Geneva, London), Africa (Lagos) etc, most humans hardly took notice of their surroundings; we are always on our phones; music, social media, chatting, video streaming etc.
I was on a bus in Geneva on a beautiful sunny day; as I walked into the aisle to take my seat, one thing caught my attention; not a single soul looked up to see the fella that just entered the bus. Everyone was engrossed in what they were doing with their phones. I took my seat by the window; as we continued in our journey I noticed that most of the humans walking on the streets and those at various bus stops were doing the same thing.
This is not right I thought to myself; or probably not. “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” I hear people say; if these people are happy living like this, then so be it. Hmmm, but are they happy? I battled with my thoughts for some minutes and still couldn’t reach a conclusion on whether it’s a good or bad phenomenon. Is technology making us feel lonelier or improving our quality of lives?
What happened to the days when people would look up and smile at you as you entered the bus? In times past, you get to the bus stop and people were just happy to say hello with a smile. What happened to those days? Probably those days are gone for good…I don’t know.
This same phenomenon applies to most of the major cities I have visited; I can’t comment on China, India, Australia and South America until I visit though. I have also noticed that it applies to all age groups; both young people and the others we can describe as “Old School”. Everyone is doing it. I have heard stories of marital communications or friendship breaking up due to attitudes that relate to this smart-phone brouhaha.
Am I also guilty of this? Yes, sometimes. The main point here is that there must be balance in everything. More people are feeling lonelier even in the crowd and yet we still embrace a phenomenon that might exacerbate the situation. Whether bigger or smaller, sometimes the head-phones are like the “do not disturb” signs we see in Hotels.
Note: “Too much of everything is bad”; that’s a philosophy I was taught when I was very young. We, as humans, need to make conscious efforts to ensure that our humanity is not diminished because of advancements in technology. Being a “Brothers’ keeper” is one of the essence of humanity; sharing a smile, acknowledging the new guy or lady that walks into the midst, reaching out to a fellow human who is stranded or to that guy or lady who needs direction at the bus stop. This is what makes us Humans.
Before Google maps (which is excellent by the way), humans used to get-by by asking each other for directions; before GPS, we needed each other more than now. Friends talk about and used to share music tracks. With technological advancements, the human interactions ought to be accentuated and not diminished. Technology ought to foster closer relationships and not make more humans lonelier.
My submission is this: if this smart-phone brouhaha is diminishing our humanity, the blame lies with the Humans and not the Phones. A good balance is needed; phones can’t make those decisions, even when they are considered “Smart”.