Keep it in your pants

How smart phones are making us dumb

Oliver James Pike | Fri, 6 Mar 2020

Credit to John Hollon

I dropped my phone recently and the screen shattered into a thousand shards of cheap Chinese fibreglass. At first, the lack of phone was an annoyance, I would have to trust those I made plans with to keep up their end of the deal and to sit in a noticeable area of a given pub. Phones really have made the organisation of our lives easier. They now tell us when to eat, sleep, rave and indeed repeat. Apps can find us significant others, deliver food to our doorsteps and even monitor our bowel movements.

However, as we revel in our newfound technological convenience we never stop to wonder if all of this is making us miserable. From the minute we wake up to the moment we go to sleep we are bombarded by ephemeral nonsense.

I find myself, almost out of compulsion, watching Instagram stories. I then catch myself and wonder why I have wasted 10 minutes of my life seeing what club Susie went to and what John had for lunch. I guarantee no one can remember 5 Instagram stories they saw today. If you can, then you care too much and are far more afflicted by this addiction than me.

Go on Facebook and be prepared to have people’s personal brand of politics shoved in your face alongside friends of friend’s anniversary pictures and guilt-tinged posts about ocean plastic. None of it is interesting, none of it is entertaining and none of it is of any substance. On a side note, why do people need to film concerts? A short one to prove you were there is fine (I don’t care by the way) but the whole thing? You haven’t actually enjoyed the concert you spent £80 to go to and all you have is a grainy, poor-quality set of videos that will never be viewed again. In the pursuit of capturing memories, we have forgotten how to make them.

Social media has made our real lives less sociable. I was at a bar recently where a group of men were all swiping away on tinder and a few tables away were a group of women doing the exact same (God forbid anyone speaks to someone else). People go out to socialise, then sit with their phones. Whenever someone pulls one out a conversation is ruined.

Households and families are now digitalised, as family WhatsApp groups have usurped tabled meals and meaningful interactions. Each member orders the food of their choice from Deliveroo and sits isolated in their assigned rooms watching yet another Netflix documentary about serial killers. I was recently at Nandos and saw more Deliveroo drivers waiting at the till than customers in the restaurant. We have forgotten how to have fun. The age of technology has replaced the need for human interaction, and many are happy to play along. Even meetings and the boozy business lunches of old look set to be replaced by sanitised skype calls and VR boardrooms (most likely monitored by an overpaid HR consultant with no sense of humour).

When I was phoneless, I felt happier. I enjoyed going out, meeting people and having conversations. I felt a burden lifted off my shoulders. No longer did my wandering mind compel me to reach for my phone without reason. I was in control. Of course, we need phones, but we should all limit our use. Set certain times where you can browse social media - if you must, create a no-phone policy when having meals (first to pull out their phone pays the tip) and for God’s sake put it away when you are walking.

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