Hello, it’s been a while. It’s actually been about a year since I last spouted a load of drivel on here. I now find myself ‘between jobs’ or ‘a gentleman of leisure’ again, and have time on my hands. The combination of a particularly stressful day, a somewhat startling film and a bottle of alcoholic ginger beer with a name that sounds like an STD have led to me not being able to sleep and my thoughts have made me feel like writing some nonsense. This one is kind of ranty.
Smart Phones are Ruining The Word Recently I’ve seen this video on Youtube called ‘I Forgot My Phone’ by Charstarlene TV . You may have seen it, it’s very popular and at the time of writing has had over 25 million hits. It basically demonstrates people’s overuse of smart phones. It’s really good and it makes you think.
It could be argued that smart phones are ruining human interaction. I think humans are becoming emotionally dependent on smart phones and people turn to them for comfort. I’ve noticed that many people often have to leave their phone on the table when in a pub or café, and can’t go 5 minutes without touching it. Or they hold their phone in their hand, even when they’re not using it. It’s almost like they use it as a safety net, as something to fall back on when their social skills aren’t up to the job.
A comfort blanket? Until recently I was living in Spain. Something about that country that surprised me at first was that in almost all bars they have televisions switched on at all times. Now we Brits would not consider a screen in a drinking establishment an alien concept, but in the UK they tend to show mostly sports, and occasionally the news, and if there’s no particular event happening the screen will often be switched off. In Spain they show whatever’s on. If there’s a football game they usually put that on, but it could also be a soap, a film, a game show, a documentary, one time I was in a bar where they even put some soft porn on and nobody batted an eye lid. The strange thing this is that most of the time the sound is so quiet it is inaudible, and nobody pays any attention to the screen, and it made me wonder what purpose they serve. Then one time a few months before I purchased a smart phone, I found myself with two friends in a bar, and they both cracked out their devices, and for a while conversation was completely out of the question. They were saying nothing, and all questions I asked were answered monosyllabically. In that moment I was grateful for the inaudible television, as it gave me somewhere to direct my gaze. (The beer I was drinking was in a glass, so there was no bottle with a label with text that I could pretend to be fascinated by). Nowadays I have a smart phone, and when everyone is ignoring each other, I can join in. It’s very useful, I can pretend I’m looking at something interesting, when really I’m just going through all the settings.
Whatsapp: destroying interaction Spanish style In Spain, Whatsapp is a very popular application. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it is basically an instant messaging service, not unlike MSN Messenger or Facebook chat, but on your phone. It is a very practical and useful tool. I, for example, went from spending €30-40 a month on using my phone to €10-15 by replacing calls and texts with free Whatsapp messages.
Whatsapp has many advantages, but it can also be very damaging to human relationships. Before I got a smart phone, there was a period when I was living in Spain where I was the only one my circle of friends who did not have the app. I had a friend who, as well as Whatsapp, had a contract with free text messages. My other friends used this friend as a go-between for all communication with me, leaving me isolated. I took the ‘if you can’t beat em, join em’ approach and invested in a smart phone. “Problem solved then” I hear you grunt with indifference, but don’t you think it’s sad that this kind of thing happens in the first place?
I believe that Whatsapp, much like Facebook and Twitter, offers us the chance to be closer to closer to acquaintances we don’t know so well, yet at the same times distances us from closer family and friends. For example, one of my best friends, who I don’t see very often because we live far apart, used to write me frequent emails and we used to Skype quite often before I got Whatsapp. As soon as I started using this app, these emails became a thing of the past. Sure, I hear from him more a little more frequently now, but he doesn’t take the time to write me a few paragraphs like he used to, he just writes 5 or 6 lines on Whatsapp in a spare moment every now and again. Consequently, I know less about what’s going on in his life than I used to.
I was once with a group of friends having dinner and one person wanted to tell a joke. Instead of telling it to the group, she sent it to the person next to her via Whatsapp. That person then sent it to the next person and so on and so forth. The joke was quite funny, but there was no reason why she couldn’t have just told the whole group at the same time. This would have made everyone laugh, and we could have enjoyed the humour and laughter collectively. Instead individuals took turns to stop talking, get their phone out, poke it a few times with their thumb, chortle a bit, and then put the phone down. Part of me died inside.
Whatever happened to enjoying the moment? In my opinion, Facebook offers an excellent way for staying in touch with people who live far away, and a platform for sharing things like photos with our friends. Now this is all well and good, but in my opinion, many people live too much of their life on it. Like I said before, I think people are becoming emotionally dependent on it. I know people who update their statuses with everything they do. For example “On my way to Tesco to buy pizza. Wooh!” The same people create publications announcing when they goes to pubs/clubs when they arrive they tag the people they are with.
Now I really struggle to see the motivation behind this kind of behaviour. Is it that they feel the need to prove to people that they have a social life? Is there some kind of contest that I’m unaware of? That could be a motivation behind tagging friends in notices about their social life, but why do you see so many people uploading photos as soon as they’re taken? Can you not just enjoy the moment? Or is that you feel the moment isn’t enjoyable unless you can publish it so that your audience of hundreds of acquaintances who don’t really give a crap can see? As regards for the Tesco update in the paragraph above, who actually cares? And incessantly uploading pictures of food. What is that about? Is loneliness the reason why people are so emotionally dependent on their smart phones that, even when in the company of others, they cannot put down the thing that, ironically enough, probably plays a significant role in them feeling lonely?
I just don’t get it. Anyway, I don’t suppose my ramblings are going to start a social revolution, I don’t suppose many people are even going to this read this. However, if you do stumble upon this page, I urge to look at your smart phone etiquette, and consider your relationships with your loved ones whose company you are in before uploading a selfie for your “friends” to like.