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My cell phone split in half this weekend...
This is the best phone I ever had. It was simple, durable (this isn't the phone that split in half) and had an excellent reggae version of Silent Night as my ringtone. The only downside to this phone was that it didn't have a camera, but that's what cameras are for I guess.
So as I look for a new phone, I find myself wishing I could go back to the simpler days of my little LG pictured above. But these days every phone is "smart," and we are being pushed into buying these smart phones and their expensive data plans. After a year of using my sister's old phone (she's always a step ahead of me with this stuff), I ended up with a Samsung Stratosphere II, and it was actually cheaper to buy a smart phone with all its data than to keep up my old fashioned ways.
I often find myself in this predicament -- how much do I let technology permeate my life? How much of this is useful and how much of it is detrimental? I like being able to look at Google Maps when I get lost in Inglewood or something like that; but I also hate talking to someone whose eyes are glued to his or her phone.
A wise friend who was a teacher told me that he asked his class if they thought the invention of writing was a good thing. Unanimously they agreed. He also agreed, but pointed out that, with the widespread availability of written materials, oral tradition slowly faded away. Now history is no longer passed down through the stories of our fathers, but by teachers and history books. With every advancement in technology, something is inevitably lost. Two steps forward, one step back…
So what have we lost with the internet and smart phones? I’d say the biggest things are social interaction and our memories.
I once was standing behind a group of people that were obviously friends, but in this group of five everyone was on their phones instead of talking to each other. I looked at the phone screen of the guy in front of me, and he wasn’t even looking at anything! Just flicking around between screens on his phone. I wanted to tell them, “Talk to each other! You have four other people right next to you!” But I didn’t. Cell phones fill awkward silence, but as a good friend once told me, “Awkward moments are what makes life interesting.”
Furthermore, we don’t have to stop and ask for directions anymore. We don’t have to buy things at stores anymore. We don’t even have to talk to our friends to keep up on each others lives. The internet and smart phones have replaced all of this.
As for memory – everything is reference based. I once asked a guy who his favorite bands were. He thought for a moment, and then whipped out his phone to see what he had been listening to. His memory of his favorite music was tied to his phone! I kind of freaked him out when I told him to put away his phone and tell me who he liked without it. Maybe I was a bit harsh…
And maybe I’m being a bit harsh now. Is my anti-technology stance distancing me from relating to people? Will I be left behind in the dust of phone books and brick-and-mortar stores as the rest of the world embraces iPads and their digital identities?
This is the great conflict of my life. A slow-moving, old-fashioned guy from the South surrounded by the latest-and-greatest in the entertainment capital of the world. Should I embrace the digital age or hold fast to a simpler life?