Is it possible for smart phones to not be smart? Or is that up to us, and the way we employ them?
Recently I had the opportunity to visit a Starbucks for a “Venti Chai Latte, no water” (my typical order) on not just one occasion, but three consecutive days! The combination of our son attending a hockey camp, the convenience of a Starbucks location right on my main route home, and credit enough on a Starbucks card registered to me to cover three beverages—all created the perfect storm scenario. (To which I happily succumbed.)
Now, I realize that there is a certain ‘culture’ that surrounds Starbucks. Be it a Seattle-esque culture, or some other subset of American life (though it’s maybe so prevalent that it is no longer deserving of the ‘sub-‘ prefix?) one is generally not surprised by the clientele encountered upon entering any of these establishments. I was not aware, however, that part of this culture includes the necessity of owning—and holding/using—a so-called ‘smart phone’.
Upon entering this particular Starbucks, located in a retail-heavy area near several colleges and universities, I was struck by the fact that every person in a line comprised of about a dozen people was holding, and actively using one of these ‘smart phones’.
There were several iPhones, along with a few other varieties. Apple’s device was the predominant choice. Every single patron was flicking their fingers along the tiny screens, transfixed, focused upon and interacting with touch sensors and light diodes—and mostly not interacting with the others around them, though there was one “regular” with whom the staff jovially conversed.
In the interest of full disclosure, I also walked into the shop, iPhone in hand, at the ready.1 🙂
Upon realizing the fullness of this cultural reality, however, I did return my phone to its designated pants pocket.
Slightly taken aback, I wondered how we’d gotten here. How have we allowed technology to so consume us? Every moment that we are not actively doing something else, we are engaging our technology. There are certainly many ways in which our technology does connect us to people, or allow us to be productive in our work or hobbies, but it almost feels as though we’re to the point where many of us are not ‘OK’ without it.
Maybe it’s just the ‘Starbucks crowd’. But I don’t think so.
I saw a video not long ago that presents this disconnection from reality that our ‘smart’ phones have allowed us to … enjoy? It is very short, maybe even poignant.
I Forgot My Phone
I’m not saying smart phones will be the end of us, but doesn’t the video above portray—a bit too accurately, too vividly—what we are becoming?
Perhaps we need to put the ‘smart’ back in our smart phones, and relegate them to their times and purposes. (And disconnect from them all the rest of the time.)
That sounds smart to me.
- There is an app on the phone for Starbucks that allows you to not only view a balance on a Starbucks card, but you can actually pay using the phone. With one or two taps, the screen displays a barcode that can be scanned at the store, completing your purchase! Fun. Practical. And many of the folks there were prepping their phones for this purpose. ↩