A friend of mine shared this great question/response quote on Facebook a while back; you might have seen it before.
It's hilarious because there is quite a bit of truth in the response, and we can all relate to some degree – even if we're not into cats or arguing with strangers. Here's my history with smartphones: I was a late adopter. I took pride in my “dumbphone” for years. But Lauren finally convinced me to get one in 2012; she gave me her old iPhone and upgraded to the latest model (actually… she used MY upgrade to get the latest model – but that's another story). I now understood what all the fuss was about. Texting, emailing, Facebook, games – EVERYTHING was so easy and convenient. The next year, I upgraded to the iPhone 5 – the same convenience but WAY faster.
I felt compelled to have my phone with me at all times. It had my games, emails, restaurant guide, maps, social media and much more… oh, and every once in a while, I would talk to someone using it – with my actual voice. But it was with me even when I was in my own house. If I relaxed on the couch, if I was in the kitchen waiting for water to boil, or anything else that involved at least a minute or two of downtime, I would whip out my phone to check email, text someone, or play a short game. I didn't even realize what I was doing until Lauren told me.
I then made the decision to cut WAY back. I would come home from work and leave the phone on the counter and focus on my family which was much more fun. So that got me thinking – did I even need this phone? What was I doing that was so important that I needed access to all of this information immediately and at all times and in all places? What if I got rid of it? So I did. I sold it on eBay for $350, bought a used “dumbphone” for $25, and I'm now saving $30 a month on my wireless bill. That's $685 more cash in my pocket over the course of a year!
And guess what? I love my ‘dumbphone'! Do I miss some of the convenience of a smartphone? Sure. But I like being a little un-plugged. Unless I'm sitting at a computer, I'm basically turned off to the internet-based world; and I consider that a plus for me. But do you know what a dumbphone can do? I can call or text anyone I know at almost any time or place, no matter where I am! Isn't that kind of amazing? Yeah, it's a bit more clumsy and slow, but Lewis CK has a great perspective on this issue: “It's going to space! Is the speed of light too slow for you?!” Obviously, we are all different… take Lauren for example – she needs to have her iPhone for work, and that's fine. Sometimes I do have to remind her to put it down and have real conversations with me, but in no way does she have a problem.
Don't get me wrong – I love technology. I think that smartphones are amazing, and I marvel every time the new iPhone, Galaxy or HTC phones are released. Think about this for a second – an iPhone 5S is tiny; weighing less than 4 oz., and is more powerful than computers from 2005 (which weighed 15+ lbs for a laptop). That's a 6,000% reduction in size over the course of 8 years!
That is some CRAZY technological advancement… but I just wonder if collectively there is a price that we are paying with immediate and unlimited access to information. I'm not sure about adults, but it seems that there are some detrimental effects on the development and behavior of children. Some of this is common sense; most of us understand that we shouldn't let our kids watch TV for hours and hours everyday. But a tablet seems different. It requires participation from the user, and there a lot of great education apps available. However, early research is showing very little improvement over a television in terms of attention span and behavioral effects. We have small children at home growing up with this technology; and maybe its just me, but I have always worried about the effect of the immediate response and gratification of simple swipes on a screen to access and change between games and videos. As soon as our 2 year old is bored with one game, she can immediately change to another with no effort. We even decided to get rid of our iPad this year because of this issue. Things weren't THAT easy when we were kids.
There's no right answer on this issue. This is simply the way our family has chosen to respond and deal the rapidly changing world of consumer technology – for both adults and children. And it varies for each individual, even within the same family. These new toys are so cool, but we've decided to not immediately embrace every aspect.