One of the major reasons for our superfast lifestyle is smartphone technology. It has transformed us beyond recognition. People from the 19th century or earlier will die of heart attack if they get a chance to see us glued to mobile phones.
Back in the late 1800s when landline telephone system was the status quo, calling was not cheap. Actually, it was quite expensive. Calling someone and receiving a ‘hello’ from the other end was magical. Landline made a big buzz when it became a household commodity. Undoubtedly, it was to stay, and sensing the public enthusiasm the inventors had to think of more innovative connectivity solutions – something that was not tied to your home- something mobile.
Come the 1970s – the first-ever mobile phones were invented. They were bulky in size with a big antenna which was on the heavier side. I sometimes wonder how on earth people used to travel with such a mobile phone.
Since then, humanity made a huge leap when in the late 1990s, the first smartphone made its debut. No one knew what significance it would play to shape and restructure our lifestyle. But it remarkably changed our lifestyle. With so much transformation over the years and mostly positive, a ‘smartphone era’ as I like to call it had begun.
Fast forward 20 years, and we are here, engrossed in our smartphones. Day in and day out it has become our friend, philosopher and guide. Keeping a smartphone as an individual asset – is it worth it?
I believe it goes both ways. Let’s face it – smartphones or telephone systems gave us an immense liberty to call anyone, anytime and anywhere in the world. Connectivity provided a freedom which the 90s generation witnessed.
So whenever anyone asks me whether owning a smartphone is correct, I always say ‘yes’ and ‘no’.
Yes, because these little smartphone devices are the life saviours. Earlier people had to depend on others for guidance, answers or even referrals. However, life has now become more independent. It has never failed to entertain or intrigue me. There are so many times I begged answers from Google which I was so embarrassed to ask in public.
Smartphones keep us connected in better and cheaper ways than ever. I don’t know what the future holds but I surely do know – the smartphone has made my life smoother.
More than just a phone, it has become our map, our address book, our gaming machine, our calculator, our checklist, our torch, our messenger, our camera, our gateway to the internet and many more. So much so that we have attached our identity to our smartphone. It reflects our personality and is an emblem of our life choices. With time, it is becoming more interactive and useful.
However, is it right to disregard the side-effects of using smartphones for their benefits?
Our older generations have struggled hard to reach a position in life. They failed hundreds of times to realise that failing is a part of life. They never had the luxury of real-time navigation search for directions on a Google Map. They were not lucky enough to click pictures at their will. They had to go to places to stay connected face to face with their families and friends. They had to visit libraries or buy books to learn something. It may be a backward concept for you, but it is a hard fact. So, the question here is – Isn’t getting everything ready at hand making us lazy?
The urge to push yourself forward for the important life decisions is missing in today’s kids and even for some millennials. They are wired to receive everything they need without hard work. They may start thinking that if it is not within their reach, it is not worth pursuing. This eventually weakens their commitment to achieving something out of their comfort zone.
One of the biggest boons of smartphones is also a bane. Too much of free information about a topic disrupts the natural flow of learning. It causes analysis paralysis, confusion and can make one feel overwhelmed.
Another unnatural paradigm that is visible in teenagers is the immense pressure for social validation among their peers.
I have a cousin sister who relentlessly updates her pictures and posts on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. It may seem alright initially. But when you observe it keenly, you will realise her full energy goes into seeking approval and ‘likes’ for her life. She may be physically present in one place, but her mind is somewhere else. This type of dual presence causes a lot of disruption and mental fatigue in one’s life.
As human beings, we all seek belongingness and companionship – that is completely fine. But when it comes to this extent where your whole life’s existence is based on others’ mere approval, there is something fundamentally wrong.
Moreover, the worst part is that if some teens are not able to catch-up with their peers, they are considered weak or boring or not good enough. This is the sad existential crisis we as a human race are facing today.
We do need connection, but not of this kind. We need natural conversations, not text chats. This brings us to my next concern. Humans are considered as social beings, so they need real interactions. But when we are forcing to limit ourselves to smartphone interactions, things start falling apart. Since we are not exposed to natural ways of life, we get dissociated from our true self and finally get depressed and lonely.
I am not against technology as I have seen the transition from having no phone to smartphones. Indeed it has brought the world very close, bringing every information to your fingertips. You can stay connected with your loved ones without having to be there physically.
Being on both sides, I realised that smartphones have surely made our lives easier and ‘smarter.’ However, we should also keep in mind the harm it can cause.
With all the technological advancements still going on and with the advent of AI, I am not sure how things will end up. Are we just at the beginning of a huge revolution? Or are we destroying ourselves? I don’t know. That is another decision altogether. However, I believe that smartphones are not our enemies if we know how to utilise them ‘smartly’.