Thursday, December 6, 2012

Smart phones: Your Best Friend or Your Worst Friend
Photo Credit: Adam at VPN Ground

The smart phone is a magical device—it keeps us connected with the world, it’s our friend, it’s our enemy, and it’s our personal assistant. People tend to wonder where we would be if there was no smart phone. The answer is simple—we would be free. Buying a smart phone provides us with so many of our everyday needs, yet, it strips us of our adventurous side. In other words, we have less desire to take time to explore the world since everything is at the tip of our fingers—books, movies, games, travel, and friends. Overall, we depend more and more on technology to do the simple tasks we used to take pride in accomplishing ourselves.

Let me elaborate on how exactly a smart phone acts as our friend, our enemy, and our personal assistant. First, the smart phone tends to be our best friend, and in some cases, our only friend. We tend to pay a greater amount of attention to our smart phone making sure it has the most popular or unique accessories. There are so many apps and features to keep up with daily, that we become so immersed and are frequently unaware of the world around us. It’s almost too easy to forget who our real friends are—people who are not obsolete when the new model arrives.

The smart phone is also our enemy and can display signs of freewill. Instead of a bad hair day, some days it decides to have a bad “tech” day—not receiving calls or texts, restarting automatically, not saving pictures, suddenly running out of space, and not ringing in the morning to wake us up. Also, a smart phone has the name for a reason, and sometimes it’s a bit too smart. It’s unnerving to know that our entire life is tracked by our phone, and that due to the high risk of information being hacked these days, private information is vulnerable. Every app on our smart phone has access to our contact list, current location, emails, web searches, and photos to better advertise and cater to our interests. Our so called smart phone “best friend” is abandoning our assumed privacy and telling everyone else our business.

Finally, the smart phone acts as our assistant. It schedules our appointments, reminds us when to go to our appointments, updates us on current news, provides easy access to email, helps us document our favorite moments with a camera and video, navigates us to the right places, and provides entertainment on demand. It is an essential tool to keep our lives organized. Unfortunately, we depend on it too much.
Photo Credit: AP Photo

There are some independents out there as smart phone are not made for everyone. The technological advances of smart phones arise so quickly that some people have a hard time keeping up. The population over age 65 has the hardest time with these advances. According to the Census Bureau report and Carrie Werner, a Census Bureau Statistician, there are now more Americans age sixty-five and older than at any other time in U.S. history.* It is unfortunate that these advances don’t seem provide as many benefits for the majority of this older generation the same way it does with the younger population. Therefore, the older population is forced to purchase these more complicated devices in order to not feel left out. However, once they obtain a smart phone, operating it is not as simple as they expected. 

Sixty-five-year-old comedian, Lewis Black, rants on the smart phone, saying “We have to learn how to communicate with it!” He is exactly right. Instead, the smart phone should have the ability to adapt and communicate with us.
Youtube: Lewis Black Rant on the iPhone

Smart phones are so advanced compared to normal phones that operating them can be a difficult process, especially for these older generations. For example, as people get older, their vision diminishes, and they have less tactile sensation. Smart phones typically have very small text making it harder to navigate through apps, email, and contacts. Also, dialing numbers is more difficult as most smart phones are touch screen and the sensation of hitting each button like on land line phones is not present. There are many problems with smart phones, and although these problems are small, to this older population, they are seen as larger problems causing a disruption in communication due to the unfamiliar experience with technological advances. Also, a fewer number of their peers have similar phones; so, it is hard to collaborate on how to operate all of the features.

I hope you have now discovered how friendly or evil smart phones can be. I anticipate that despite our dependence on its capabilities, the many operational problems, the amount of tracking or vulnerability from hackers, and the issues with hard to read visuals, smart phones will continue to be one of the most popular selling phones the world. In the future, there will most likely be solutions to repair these issues resulting in an ideal magical device for communication.                                               *                   

-Ruth Bram

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