Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The age of the phone?

The last 3 years have seen an explosion in the popularity of smart phones. Whether you want one or not, unless you have lived under a stone, it's impossible to avoid seeing one in action.  

These phones are like mini computers, allowing the user to not only make telephone calls, but also manage communication and information from a variety of sources, including SMS messaging, internet, email and wifi networks. They take and edit photographs, play music and films. The very latest ones now offer face-to-face video calls. 

I believe that these communication devices were inevitable. As humans, we have an instinctive desire to keep in contact with the people we care about. As more and more of our lives is consumed by the demands for work, the smartphone allows us to keep reassuring each other without having to step away from our desks or shops. Conspiracy theorists would no doubt have a field day with this idea. However, it brings me to my first point..

Are we becoming too reliant on this technology for reassurance? Is it a crutch? Undoubtedly, many people will be using their phones as a means of emotional support. It is so reassuring to know that the emergency services, all your friends, and all of the information and all  the services that the internet offers are there for you - instantly. You can get your friends social status and personal information at the touch of a button. A recent survey with teenagers said that they would rather go without anything else than their phones (perhaps this is no surprise to parents of teenagers!). Are we breeding a generation of phone junkies who fall apart when separated from their phones? Perhaps.....

But, I truly believe the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. There are so many areas of society who have benefitted from the smartphone. Many people fear information overload. I consider this as a challenge to our generations, but future ones will adapt. I see the increasing complexity of our technology as a sign of humanity's collective consciousness improving. The more connections we make, the more knowledge we share and the more issues we discuss will only serve to broaden our understanding of what it is to be human.

Love them or loathe them... smart phones are going to be with us for a while. The challenge will not be whether we can make new technologies, but whether we can resist using them for personal gain at the expense of others - like warfare, unethical selling and spying.

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