Sunday, October 25, 2015

Smartphone etiquette...

Yesterday, as Bill and I were driving home from a day trip to Ludwigsburg, we were talking about the whole Malia Obama beer pong incident.  As were talking, it occurred to me that cellphones are a wonderful, useful invention, but they have also really eroded civility.  Many adults today had the luxury of growing up without smartphones.  They were free to have a childhood unrecorded and undocumented.  Photos were captured on film and were usually not immediately available.  So a person could get away with playing some beer pong without it ending up front page news.

It used to be that a person could enjoy the movies or a concert without being distracted by cellphones either ringing or people texting.  A person could go out to dinner and enjoy a meal without taking time to snap a photo of the food (which I will admit that I do for my travel blog) or playing on Facebook.  It used to be people had more mystery to their lives.  You didn't necessarily know everyone's business.  After high school, people moved away and lost touch.  A circle of friends might be smaller, but it was more often genuine.  Nowadays, a person can be a friend with anyone on Facebook, even if they've never met... even if they don't speak the same language.

I guess I could say the Internet is really the cause of all of this stuff, rather than smartphones.  Smartphones are just a really just extremely portable computers that everyone has on their person all the time.  So really, every time you go out somewhere, you run the risk of being photographed and shared on the Internet for the world to see.  I admit that I'm as guilty as anyone of taking too many pictures instead of simply enjoying life.  I spend too much time on Facebook instead of being out in the real world, interacting with people offline.  Of course, I am not the only one on the computer all the time.

It took me a long time to get my first cellphone.  I think I got it during my second year of grad school.  It was a shitty Audiovox phone that I got for free.  It did the job, though, and I used it until around 2004, when Bill got me a Nokia.  I used the Nokia phone until we came to Germany the first time (2007) and stopped using a cell phone at all.  Then in 2009, I got my first iPhone.  I was pretty amazed by it.  It was so many gadgets rolled into one.  I have since had three iPhones.  I almost never use them for phone calls.  Instead, I surf the 'net, play games, take pictures, or use the calculator to figure out how much longer I'll be paying my student loans.

I guess I should just get used to it.  Technology is changing the world... and not necessarily for the better.

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