24 June 2015
The advent of computing they say exponentially enhanced man’s mental prowess much like what the wheel had once done for his physical capability. We live in an age where new marvels and miracles of technology astonish and astound us on an almost daily basis. But to me nothing amazes and inspires wonder as much as that one device in almost everyone’s hand~ the ubiquitous mobile phone. In the course of a decade or so since it invaded our lives and became “smart”, it has made over a dozen or more older devices redundant, if not obsolete.
Today calling people and texting messages seems to have shrunk to a very insignificant part of the cell phone’s existence. The four inch display screen of my phone has two small icons, each about a square cm in size, for phone and messaging functions. The rest of the four home screens have been taken over by icons for apps that practically do everything for me. The alarm function of the clock wakes me up every morning; the reminders and calendar plan the day’s activities even as the weather app alerts me about the possibility of rain during the day. With iTunes my favourite songs are one touch away; i can read not one but many newspapers and magazines or on a lazy day simply scroll through an app that collects news-bites on topics i like to read about. The kindle app is an easy access to ones entire library, so now while waiting at the dentist you just have to fish out the phone and start reading your book from the page you bookmarked. You can play sudoku or solve a crossword anytime anywhere. Facebook,Twitter, Whatsapp and other social apps can keep you busy for hours on end.Your bank account statements, bill payments, online shopping even for mundane grocery and toiletries, driving directions to a given address, a currency converter or a flashlight, the recipe you were looking for…you name it and you’ve got it! There was a time when our daughter would call long distance to ask what she could cook with the ingredients available with her at home; now she punches the same on the browser and voila Google-genie has an appropriate recipe for her! Our son does the same while figuring out cocktails to make with the spirits in his bar! Does anyone even remember the days when web browsing was done on a PC with a wire?!
Above all there is the camera and the whole auto-photography (better known as selfie!) craze! You can’t escape from them anywhere…at airports, shopping mall escalators, parks, sports arenas, bars and restaurants…they are everywhere: a whole generation who love to chronicle every moment of life on a four inch screen! Whatever health and welfare studies may suggest about how these seemingly innocent photos could point to undiagnosed psychological conditions, we are all guilty of some narcissistic indulgence once in a while. Perhaps a time has come when we need to introduce a course on the use and abuse of the mobile phone in school curriculum and create good ‘digital-citizens’ instead of wasting time on redundant studies…the smart-phone that enables you to carry your world in your hand is here to stay.