Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Smartphones are here to stay. These miniature computers we all carry around in our pockets all day, every day are now outselling feature phones, meaning new smartphone owners are being created all the time.
This is good news for Apple, Google, Samsung, HTC, and all the other companies making money from smartphones. But it may not be so good for the human race as a whole, or individual smartphone owners. Yes, I’m talking about you, the person currently reading this article while sat on a bus.
Having already detailed several reasons why you shouldn’t buy a smartphone in the first place, it’s time to plead with those of you who have already succumbed to the lure of this magical technology. Your smartphone could be ruining your life, or at least have the capacity to do so in the future.
Harming Human Relationships
Your smartphone may be capable of connecting you to the whole world via email, messaging services, social networks, and the wider Web, but it’s also capable of disconnecting you to those people around you.
Phubbing (phone snubbing) is a serious issue, with couples choosing to spend their time together staring at their phones rather than interacting with each other. This is merely the thin end of a very large wedge that could harm our ability to connect and communicate with other people face-to-face.
Fix: Don’t choose your smartphone over real-life interactions.
Living Life Through A Lense
Most smartphones possess good cameras, leading to many people ditching their expensive DSLRs in order to concentrate on experimenting with smartphone photography. Having a capable camera with you at all times makes it very hard to resist taking pictures at every opportunity, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
The problem comes when people live their life from behind their smartphone, which is permanently glued to the end of their fingers ready to take photos. Photos make nice keepsakes to remember an occasion by, but eschewing the actual experience to get the best shots is a hiding to nothing.
Fix: Remember that photos aren’t as important as the experience itself.
Dominating Your Free Time
Smartphones are extremely versatile gadgets, offering endless opportunities to use your time up, whether productively or wastefully. While it’s hard to see a downside to this, there is one that could lead to you living a less-fulfilling life.
If you let your smartphone dominate your free time to the exclusion of all other interests and hobbies then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Is playing Angry Birds really better than reading a book? Is tweeting all about your life better than eating out at a restaurant? Is surfing pointless websites for hours on end better than learning to speak another language?
Fix: Don’t give up other hobbies to spend more time on your smartphone.
The holy trinity of smartphones, the Internet, and social networking have led to many people overdoing it when it comes to sharing details of their lives. But smartphones are, I believe, the biggest cause of this trend of oversharing.
Smartphones mean you can share details about your life whenever and wherever the fancy takes you. You can tell people what you’re doing, where you’re doing it, and who you’re doing it with. You can upload photos or video. You can provide a running commentary that includes the most banal details. Which is all well and good until you bore your nearest and dearest with these pointless updates.
Fix: Pick and choose what you share with the wider world.
Getting Away From It All
In the days when desktop computers ruled the roost you had no option but to leave the digital realm behind whenever you left the house. Notebooks and netbooks added a mobile element, but most people still knew when to shut the lid and bid the online world goodbye. Now, that no longer happens.
Smartphones mean that wherever you are in the world, you have the capacity to head online and converse with people. Or do some work. Or read email. Or play some games. Making it insanely tough to disconnect and get away from it all, even for short periods at a time.
Fix: Switch off your smartphone and escape the digital realm once in a while.
Relying On Technology
While we should all welcome advances in technology when they occur, there is a danger associated with letting this technology do everything for us. Which is that we forget how to do even the most basic tasks for ourselves.
Smartphones can be used to do all kinds of different things, from simple arithmetic to planning a trip, from fixing typos to waking us up in the morning. These are all things we used to be able to do but which we’re now losing the ability (and need) to do. Which isn’t good for the longterm health of the human race.
Fix: Don’t turn to your smartphone before trying to do something for yourself.
This is a light-hearted piece with a serious message at its core. You may think criticism of new technology means being a luddite, but this isn’t the case. It’s more about being aware of how you use this technology and how that can affect your life for both better and worse.
All of these reasons your smartphone may be ruining your life, and the fixes that accompany them, are about people, whether you as an individual or the family and friends you share your life with. Is there anything more important than people?
And there endeth the lesson for today.