Dec 4th 2015

You are always on my mind

It’s ironic that something that allows us to communicate with unbelievable ease has made us all acceptably antisocial. It was while walking to work this morning it really did dawn on me. Smartphones are completely nuts. Every second person a looked at was engrossed in a little screen. I had to manoeuvre my way around a woman who, I saw, was intent on shopping for a dress in the middle of the pavement. I myself had headphones plugged into one in an attempt to rouse me into some semblance of Friday cohesion. Even this time 3 or 4 years ago, I was blissfully unaware of the powers of mobile internet, occasionally exchanging SMS with a small pool of similarly skint university chums.

The rise of the small smart rectangle has its roots in 2007’s original iPhone: A New Hope. The Apple Empire struck back quickly to make sure this new-fangled ‘3G’ thing was included, bringing consumers young and old to the conclusion that their once trusty Nokias must be resigned to the spare room draw. The mobile phone has turned from the quirky pager-with-more-features into the primary possession of most of the first world. Is this at the expense of fusty old virtues like ‘talking’ and ‘manners’? No matter how much I think about it, I can never bring myself to put my phone on the table at dinner, let alone look at it in a work meeting. Is the general acceptance of this in society linked to the advanced capabilities of the device? Or, as humans, are we conditioned to mimic others and go with the crowd? And if the crowd is tweeting in Nandos, maybe we should be too.

The smartphone is curiously inclusive and exclusive. If you’re WhatsApping while you’re with your best mates, who exactly are you talking to? And why is it acceptable not to excuse yourself or have to say who you’re talking to? Why aren’t you in the room? Is it because we’re wowed by the gadgetry, or do smartphones invoke a deeper psychological urge to use them that manufacturers never foresaw, yet now are dining out on? My phone for one is embarrassingly expensive.

Being always connected has turned us into 24/7 emailers, tweeters, shoppers, but beyond all, worriers. But what are we missing out on? Is Adele in London? Why is #GaryNeville trending? 20% off at H&M? And between all the thumbs tapping how the hell are we going to get all this work done? Thank God it’s Friday.