Small Device, Big Time

Andrew Keen, the author of “The Cult of the Amateur,” recently published an article on CNN online evaluating the significance of mobile devices (phones specifically) in contemporary society. Keen believes that the future will continue to evolve and take over consumers lives. He claims that eventually, mobile devices will operate on the same level as human intelligence. He claims that the only way to break this chain of events is to practice empowerment over our devices. “What it means is pressing the off button so that our smartphone can never become as smart as we are,” Keen said. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.

 I’ll admit it; it scares me to leave my dorm without my phone. It’s because I’m scared. I’m scared of missing “that text” from “that girl” that I’m talking to, or “that Facebook message” from “that friend” who just discovered a new popular meme on reddit and posted it on my wall (or timeline). But lately I’ve been frightened for a new reason, a more important reason. Lately I’ve been scared that I’m going to miss emails from potential employers that I have applied to for potential internships and jobs, and for that reason (obviously among others) I always have my phone by my side. Our generation has popularized social media and electronic communication, turning it into more than mere convenience, as it is now a necessity.
I’m not going to defend mobile phones because I agree (along with everyone else) that phones are used excessively, especially among my generation. But it’s not that we necessarily want it to be this way, its just the way that technology has shaped our lives. I am obsessed with my phone, but in a world filled with applications, social networking opportunities and essentially free text messages (iMessaging!) it’s hard not to be.

Really?

At this very moment Apple is approaching 25 billion app downloads, 22 billion of which have came since January of 2010. Text messaging is the no. 2 use of mobile phones behind checking the time, and smart phones have claimed almost 75% of the cellular market. Yes, all of these luxuries make it easy to access information that would traditionally (less than 10 years ago) be limited to home computers and laptops, but society has allowed itself to use this as catalyst. Digital communication has released its potential and forced itself into vital roles, such as facilitating conversations with friends at all times, sharing information with family and even contacting employers concerning important information. The advancement of mobile devices has definitely made all of these things more accessible, and convenient, but it has also had a large impact on our daily interactions with something called people. 

According to a recent Time Magazine article, every 1 in 8 people use their cell phone as a way of avoiding talking to other people; 30% the surveyed population between 18 and 29 years of age use this technique. People are using their phones to actually avoid engaging in conversation with each other, solely because technology has enforced this reaction over the past few years. People avoid conversation because its easier to bury their faces in their phones rather than put themselves through the pressure and anxiety of meeting new people.

I spent the entire month of January in Australia without a phone, and it was great. I never had to worry about talking to anyone except the people I was with at that point in time and focus solely on the present. This freedom enabled me to have several conversations with complete strangers because I wasn’t worried about texting or face-booking my friends and family while riding the train or the bus. I took advantage of the opportunity and met some really interesting people, of whom I probably wouldn’t have even considered making eye contact with had I had my app-infested iPhone in hand.

Mobile phones have definitely created new communicative possibilities, while simultaneously making communicating through various mediums faster and easier than ever before. But this level of convenience is intruding on our personal interaction with others, making it harder to approach another person and actually engage in conversation. The lack of social interaction created by the advancement of mobile devices is unfortunate but necessary to assimilate to contemporary societal shifts.  Andrew Keen, the author of “The Cult of the Amateur,” believes that the future will continue in this direction, claiming that eventually, mobile devices will operate on the same level of human intelligence. He claims that the only way to break this chain of events is to practice empowerment over our devices.

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About edinkins

My name is Eric Dinkins and I am a Journalism major at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina. This blog serves an online portfolio, displaying any work I’ve completed pertaining to what I may end up doing in the future. This includes digital work done in Photoshop or Final Cut Pro X, as well as written work that I have done for specific courses or the Elon Magazine/Newspaper. I aspire to learn as much as possible during my undergraduate studies, and I will continue to update this blog as I gain more experience.

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