Friday thought #9 Are we obsessed with mobile phones and the internet?

I know this is going to sound dreadfully old lady-like and I imagine that I am very much in the minority on this one, but at what point did the world become obsessed beyond recognition with the Internet and mobile phones? The rise of technology is without doubt enormously impressive and those of yesteryear would simply stare open-mouthed at what we are able to do today with regards to communication, but what really bothers me is that mobile phones are no longer just a convenient gadget, they have become a status symbol and an genuine obsession. People simply cannot live without their phones. Look around you on any train, bus, in any waiting room, or simply walking along the street, and all you see is people on their phones. It makes me genuinely wonder what people did with their hands and their brains before phones, as any spare moment seems to be spent checking for texts, checking emails, or simply scrolling through photos. Did people used to just put their hands in their pockets and look at their surroundings? Maybe do some sudoku puzzles, read a newspaper, or even a book?? Hard to imagine now.

I will hold my hands up and happily admit that I love the internet and I love my computer. I think emails are a wonderful way of contacting people and have certainly made the World a much more accessible place. But what I thoroughly enjoy is coming home in the evening and checking my emails, like excitedly waiting for the postman in days gone by. I really don’t see the need for everyone to be reachable via the internet 24 hours a day. I feel lucky to come from a generation who grew up with no internet and no phones and who have now witnessed the phenomenal technological changes of the last 20 years. However I feel genuinely saddened that we are most certainly the last ones. Children nowadays will never know a world where you can’t just google something on a car journey, or check your Facebook messages during Geography lessons.

Most people today could not possibly imagine life without their phone, it is within easy reach at any point of the day; either in their pocket, in their bag or on the table in front of them, just in case that all important text or email comes through. Would it be the end of the world if you didn’t see that message for another 2 hours? Before the Millennium there was no mobile access to the Internet, yet somehow everyone still seemed to manage. Now people can’t even sit through dinner without their phone taking pride of place at the table, obnoxiously beeping every few minutes and with their owner rudely and unsociably interrupting the conversation to check messages and update everyone on the latest Facebook post. Social etiquette has taken on a whole new set of rules, many of which horrify me yet which seem to have been totally accepted by everyone else. Since when is it ok to take your phone out and flick through emails and messages whilst someone is talking to you? Not so long ago it wasn’t acceptable to put your elbows on the table during dinner…

I really do think that it is ruining the way people interact with the World around them, and I worry for future generations who are headed for a life where their main social activities revolve around a smartphone and where having 500+ ‘friends’ is both normal and accepted. Maybe I’m too desperately clinging to the past and need to simply suck it up, buy myself a smartphone and roll with the times, but I can’t see it. I’ll always prefer to talk to someone in person rather than on the phone and will continue to look forward to checking my messages upon returning home. New gadgets are fine, and I’m all for moving forward with technology, but I worry that we are moving so quickly that we are losing sight of what’s important and necessary and forgetting that life before this obsession to be in constant contact wasn’t so bad after all, and in my opinion much calmer, less frantic and a lot less stressful…

Are smartphones turning us in to a generation of rude, obsessive recluses?

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