Pom in Oz column: Making the right call on the value of technology is complex

Derek GoforthMidwest Times
Would we be better off without mobile phones?
Camera IconWould we be better off without mobile phones? Credit: Jason McCawley/Getty Images

Would we be better off without mobile phones?

Lets face it, there have been a handful of technological advances in the past 50 years that have inexorably changed our lives: television, the internet and most recently the smartphone.

Clearly there are arguments regarding whether we are truly better or worse off because of these inventions and the offshoots they have produced.

So here are a few statistics for you from Vibe105to.com.

Did you know 50 per cent of teenagers admit being addicted to their mobile phones, 70 per cent of adults and 80 per cent of teens check their phones every hour at least, and 72 per cent of all mobile phone users feel it’s necessary to respond to texts and messages immediately?

Do these stats surprise you?

I must say they did not come as any shock to me.

Of course, mobile phones are useful in emergencies, great for using when stranded or broken down, and obviously provide a certain freedom when communicating for work or with family and friends.

But saying that, we could do these things with just a regular, plain old mobile phone.

Remember the ones in the 90s? Calls and texts were pretty much the limit and it cost a small fortune to actually use them?

But flash-forward to 2007 and the release of the first iPhone.

That’s the day the world really changed, I think for the worse.

Yes, I own a smartphone, yes I use it to distract myself, and yes I use social media on it too.

So yes, big hypocrite warning!

But it’s my opinion piece so some contradictions are allowed.

What bothers me, and what makes me sad, particularly entering into my fifth decade soon, is what we have lost — not what we have gained. Intimacy, patience, a special something that was involved with making a phone call.

I am not sure about you growing up, if you are on the slower side of 40, but we even had a room especially for making and receiving phone calls, with a special phone table and chair.

We had a rotary phone that required a physical effort to use.

But what I remember is how special it was to receive a call or even to make one.

How much of an event it was.

You had to plan it, otherwise the person would not be in.

And what happened if they were not home? Well, nothing! No texts, no voicemail, just a ringing noise with no one to listen.

So yes, I miss the old days, I miss the slower pace, the thought and effort we seem to have lost.

But saying that, I am currently probably reading this on my phone through a social media app.

So missing something and doing something about it are two very, very different things, I guess.

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