Tuesday,21 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1216, (2 - 8 October 2014)
Tuesday,21 August, 2018
Issue 1216, (2 - 8 October 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Smartphones-not so smart!!!

They keep coming! Fat ones, thin ones, long ones, short ones, big ones, small ones, like Hitchcock’s birds they attack mercilessly, picking, plucking, pushing, pulling, peeving, pestering, without pity. How impertinent, how brazen to interfere with our confirmed habits! Finally we give in!

Such temptations are hard to resist! Observing their lumbering gaiety, gazing at their techno-coloured rapture, coated in their silver, red, black, gold faces, we are hooked. Portly gifts in portly packages, daring us to decipher their technical complexities.

Stunned and electrified, we stare with alarm at this omnipotent apparatus!

How fashionable! How debonair! Fancy the mingled amazement and envy of our close ones as we flaunt our new gadget with our usual vanity! But will it serve us better than the one before, or the one before that? What a nuisance imposing their technology on us. We curse the day we were informed that life cannot continue without a cell, mobile or smart phone. When and where will it end?

A hundred years ago a telephone was simply a tool that allowed us to talk to another person at a distance. It could not flash, whistle, play games, sing songs, take pictures, text messages, show movies or keep record of our bank account. What should we expect 100 years hence?

It is such a convenience you say! How else can you seek help in an emergency? Should it not have been restricted to that?

Technology would not allow it. Scientists run an ungodly race with time and must outfox themselves,  and we are their willing guinea-pigs.

Why should we object to smarter phones?  Consider how many tasks they perform, tasks we used to have to grind on our own. Even the internet is now at our fingertips. We can check our e-mail, type or text a message, make reservations at a restaurant, movie, theatre; keep up with the news, sports, gossip. How smart is that! The question remains, is it trustworthy and the answer is, far from it.

Humans are by nature social creatures that need real life interaction. We are running the risk of changing human nature, thanks to our smartphones. We have trouble reconnecting with the real world, our minds and bodies become lethargic and inactive. Do we use our senses any more, our memories, our eyes, our ears, our voices. We begin to prefer this type of interaction at the cost of family and friends.  Better tune out the phone instead of tuning out the world.

They must be laced with magic those technological wonders. Observe the people in stores, restaurants, streets, offices, cars, buses they are all glued to the hand that holds the magic spell. Like robots from another planet, they keep tapping away, silent, motionless; one wonders if they are alive! Gone are the civilised face to face human contacts, where voices are heard, expressions are seen and emotions are felt. 

How unwise of the human race to follow like a herd of sheep, risking the loss of our society to advanced technology, and forming in its stead ‘a brave new world’.

Our inattention to our surroundings has caused bad accidents, some fatal. Even while walking, pedestrians are texting away and have run into each other, into doors, walls and oncoming traffic. Some have fallen off bridges or stepped into construction potholes, with serious consequences. Those are mature adults! What about the young and the very young?

Kids are the most vulnerable victims of the very smart phones. They know nothing else; this is their world. Will they ever be able to carry a conversation with anyone but a gadget, smart as it may be?  Immature and unwise they commit grave errors by neglecting their studies because of their addiction. That is it! Addiction!

Teens text even while driving and according to the US Statistics Bureau, that is the leading cause of teen deaths in America, amounting to more than 3000 annually… “Driving while ‘intexicated’, has surpassed driving while intoxicated”.  It is 6 times more dangerous than drinking and driving.

Personal security and privacy is another grave concern. Smart hackers can infect your smart phone and access personal data through a wireless network. 

Malware, (malicious software), poses a major risk to consumers personal, proprietary and financial data. Security expert Prof Mark Duke of National Defense University cautions against recording sensitive information or excessive use… ”Show me a convenience, I’ll show you a vulnerability.”

A potent spying tool used by Edward Snowden to wreak havoc on the White House and the snooping president. In hindsight, should Angela Merkel have made those personal calls?  The US NSA (National Security Agency has been caught spying on 35 world leaders through their very smart phones.

A staggering development has been revealed by scientists at Rutgers University who have unfurled a particularly resilient malware known as ‘rootkit’, which can turn the smartphones’ microphone, battery and GPS against the owner. Charming!  

Thieves are smart, spies are smart, criminals are smart, we shun them all, yet we embrace our smartphones, which cause equal harm.

Alas! Poor Alexander Graham Bell must be turning in his grave to see how his ingenious creation is now cumbersome, neglected and obsolete.

Oh for a leisurely conversation, safely seated on our favorite armchair, or better still, lying in bed, knowing exactly where the earpiece and the mouth piece are.

Is that a pleasure long gone when brains were used instead of phones!

 “O! Call back yesterday, bid time return”

William Shakespeare,  (1564-1616)

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