Oops! Dropped your phone? Or lost it? Maybe you don’t need it as much as you think.
With smartphones becoming commonplace, and with a host of apps being deployed through them, it seems a silly question to ask. Yet, we must question ourselves–are we overdoing the whole smartphone thing? It’s a question that I often ask myself in today’s world that is well-connected through social media.
In 2013, Mashable published an article on the 10 most used smartphone apps.
See http://www.statista.com/chart/1345/top-10-smartphone-apps-in-q2-2013/ for original article on statista.com
Not a bad list. In the broadest terms, most of these applications deal with interpersonal communication. As humans, mobility is important to us, and the smartphone-era has made it much more achievable.
Google Maps tops the list (by a significant margin), indicating that the smartphone is much more than a communication tool. It provides information cheaply and quickly, and empowers people to make better decisions. This device can make an individual’s life easier, or change the fate of countries, like it did during the Arab Spring.
Yet, do we all use the device to its full-potential? By “full-potential,” I mean taking advantage of all the advanced functionality your phone has to offer, and going beyond just playing with Snapchat or Flappy Bird.
I’d strongly recommend that you reconsider your decision to use a smartphone for the following reasons.
Forbes ran a story sometime back on The Real Price of a Smartphone.
This Forbes.com table shows how you’ll have to pay with each carrier upfront, when you decide to enter into a contract (which typically lasts for two years).
If you want to be more independent, you’ll have to shell out at least $300 for an unlocked handset. The question is, is it a prudent investment for a frugal student? Let’s not even get started on the monthly bills.
It is only natural to be extra-careful about your precious phone, because you paid a lot of money for it, and because it holds a lot of precious data. You’d have to be careful not to drop it, expose it to moisture, or misplace it.
I’ve heard a lot of people lament about dropping their phone. I’m a very cautious person, so I’ve never dropped mine even once…that is, until it was stolen. Frankly speaking, my mind has been at ease ever since. Sapient corporates have come up with novel insurance schemes for smartphones. If you go on this route, you may be able to breath easier – if you have the extra money for it.
If I had a nickel for every time I heard the line, “There’s an app for that,” I would be able to afford an unlocked version of the latest and greatest phone. Feature creep is the expansion of a product beyond the basic necessary features. As the owners of smartphones, we get to decide what features our phones can provide, since smartphones can afford a lot of functionality that can be expanded through apps. That means wasting time on installing stuff you don’t need, just because your friend recommended it, or the internet swears by it. I’ve spent a lot of time on a quest to find the best productivity apps. Unfortunately, none of the apps that I tried worked for me, and the exercise turned out to be counter-productive.
There’s just something about social media that makes people let their hair down and place themselves in awkward scenarios. Smartphones have accelerated this behavior by providing easy access to numerous social networks. Do the users experience a touch of bravado? Is it the excitement of showing the world who you are? Whatever it is, its just not worth nearly maiming yourself, or destroying your reputation.
image via bigthink.com
There are just too many notifications popping up on your phone, and all of them seem urgent!
You might be inclined to stop working on that term paper, and instead get to monitoring the likes and comments on that new profile picture you posted on Facebook. Or keep texting while crossing the road, oblivious to an 18-wheeler that is heading straight toward you.
Ever since I switched to a “dumbphone,” I’ve lived distraction-free. I live in the moment and try to experience it as much as I can. I’m not bothered about live-tweeting from a party, or taking pictures of a really beautiful cup of coffee I was served at Starbucks.
The smartphone distraction can also be viewed as an addiction problem. It makes you an information junkie. You don’t have to check your email every five minutes. Or post a tweet every 40 seconds. Control your smartphone urge, and you will stop it from controlling you.
Lack of Social Skills
This one is plain sad. When using a smartphone during a social interaction, you are not giving the other person your 100% attention. You will come off as rude, lacking discipline, or even anti-social. This video expresses the issue perfectly:
We, as humans, did not evolve to the top of the food chain for this. We do not have to share every single thing that we encounter with our online networks. Our race seems to suffer from a narcissism epidemic.
Lets go back to the “Top 10 Apps” list mentioned at the beginning of this post. Google Maps is #1 here, but could it be over-used? It is definitely useful while driving on the freeway and you’re trying to find a particular exit, but not so when trying to find a laundromat a couple of blocks down the street. I used to be a Google Maps abuser myself, but now I try to figure it out myself through street signs, or just ask for help. My sense of direction and map-reading skills have tremendously improved–I no longer need a GPS to point me to every minute location. This doesn’t mean that I’ve become a solider ready to be dropped into the Amazon, but rather, I’ve learned to improvise and live without a smartphone.
My idea here is not to recruit followers for a cult of smartphone haters. In this world centered around technology, it’s very easy to get lost in the hype.
image via community-building.weebly.com
Perhaps the smartphone is a necessary tool for you. Perhaps it is not. Each person’s case is unique, and we personally need to deliberate over whether a smartphone will be worth the time, money, and energy we invest in it. For instance, if you travel a lot, and need access to information on the go, a smartphone might be a worthwhile investment for you. However, if you live on Ramen noodles, but desperately hold on to your smartphone, you need to get your priorities straight.
Have any thoughts to add? Leave them in the comments section here.