why i’m not yet ready for a smartphone


old-celly

[ Thanks to fastcompany.com for the image above! ]

WITH YOUR kind indulgence, I’m talking to you without the aid of Google, Wikipedia and any other priceless aid to conversation that makes online life so easy these days.  This is why I have no erudite, professional definition of a Smartphone, which is of course different from the Smart Phone popular in the Philippines a few years ago.  I’m only going by my direct, personal experience with such artifact, for that is what the smartphone is isn’t it? an artifact or talisman of our society and culture today.

Based on the little that I know, the smartphone is a cell phone with so many added features, not the least of which is connectivity with the internet, high-resolution and pixel-less camera included, GPS and other neat stuff.  It seems that in the last few months, everyone I know and nearly everyone I see is using a smartphone.

Yes there is a personal reason for me talking about this.  Mahal the beauteous maybahay told me it was high time that I started using a new phone, and gifted me a Samsung mini Galaxy for Christmas (thank you so much my love).  While I’m ecstatic and over the moon with the new-fangled device, I do have a few reservations.

integrated to the bone.  Nearly three-quarters (or some days, more) of our free time is consumed by being on the internet, as you and I know very well.  What having a smartphone means is that the remaining sliver of 25% which is spent with family, doing chores, and maybe performing your marital obligations (wink, wink) will be taken up by The Matrix as well.  I don’t know, the internet is scarily compelling, addictive, and worse, you’re hooked and you can’t even admit it.  There are just too many things to do, even though you start logging on with the best of intentions, like receiving and sending e-mails across the miles, or maybe finishing work at home.  Pretty soon you start doing things you never intended, and before long it becomes an entrenched, regular and essential part of your daily life.  Add the internet feature to your cell phone, your constant companion on the commute, at work, mealtimes and at your bedside, and the internet is no longer your tool, but your master.  And thanks to your phone, you are the SLAVE.  I can just hear my new Samsung quietly snickering, bwahahahaha…

your eye has become a camera.  The smartphone has made budding photographers out of every one of us, and everybody has become a photojournalist.  A golden sunset on the way home?  I just have to snap that.  Click.  Patterns in nature or in the clothes of madding crowds?  Too cute, have to share that.  Snap.  Profoundness in everyday scenery?  Hmm.  Will my FB friends see the beauty of what I’m seeing?  Won’t know till I post that on Instagram, Send!  We don’t even need to convince wary friends to view our family and vacation albums anymore, because their digital and online versions are splashed all across the social networks, exacerbated by Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr (did I spell that right?).  While this is all good and ego-stroking for us, adding to the existing billions of photos panoramas and self-gratifying shots that no one will appreciate after the cursory glance is not very good for the near-bursting databanks of our collective lives. For this is what our smartphone cameras encourage us to do : keep taking snapshots and photos like there’s no tomorrow.  Maybe one in ten thousand will end up a timeless photo that will inspire generations to come, but the nine thousand nine hundred ninety-nine plus will be just that, the forgotten recycled bin pile.

watching videos on a tiny screen.  This by far seems to be the definitive activity of the smartphone-owner-cum-bus/train-commuter : if you play your RPG, Candy Crush Saga or any other casual game that is anything but casual (it involves your energy, commitment and many times online money), you need a screen.  If you’re like a billion other virtual world inhabitants and like surfing YouTube and watching videos, sports highlights and virally funny comedians, you need a screen.  If you like keeping in touch with your loved ones via Skype, Face Time or any other face-to-face application, you obviously need a screen.  And you want it 24/7, in virtual time, meaning as soon as you need the service, and you want it in high-quality, high-speed mode.  This is why your smartphone is suddenly something that you can’t do without.  This is why, despite the migration towards larger and larger screens (think 50-inch plasma TV viewing that’s as commonplace as your microwave), the smartphone is something of a departure, a temporary detour that we’re willing to take in the name of instant connectability and instant gratification, video-wise.

Fortunately for me, I like watching videos, but I can live without watching them constantly.  I can keep in touch face-to-face, but only when I’m in the comfort of my high chair in front of the laptop.  In fact, out of the scenarios in which the smartphone is becoming an essential, I can only relate to gaming, as it is understandably an all-day, all-access activity that requires instant connectivity.  Luckily for me, I can wait till I get home to play my beloved CCS.

As of this writing, I’m trying to understand my new toy, the mini Galaxy that Mahal insists I introduce myself to and vice-versa.  It is a heavily involving activity, and I have to understandably break out of my comfort zone.  But on the altar of progress, some sacrifices must be made, and I just want to survive.

Thanks so much for your Christmas greetings, and if you have any instructional aids on smart phones for me, I will be grateful!

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