Hi-tech heaven or hell?

Just by way of an exercise this week, I decided to conduct my own survey on the use of mobile phones in public places.

It was all extremely scientific . . . I did a head count. Without going into the actual figures, I worked out that over a one hour period, more than 30% of the people either passing through the small square where we were seated, along with fellow caffeine junkies at adjoining tables where we were enjoying our morning coffee, were using their mobile phones.

A third of the people in other words, had their eyes, but rarely their ears, glued to the damn things, with very few appearing to actually be making or receiving calls.

The mobile phone has gone beyond its original objective of being able to communicate on the hoof if the need arose, or to be able to cope with any unforeseen emergency without having to seek out a public pay phone.

If the anti-social aspect of being force fed other peoples conversations in confined spaces was not enough, we now have the bizarre sight of half the population with permanently bowed heads, texting, Googling, or playing some stupid game on their smart phones whilst eating a meal in a restaurant, sitting on a train, or standing in line at the bank.

It’s no wonder that good conversation is a dying art and wet shoes a common occurrence in men’s public toilets.

And you had better be on the alert when simply walking through a crowded shopping centre, because the risk of injury through collision is very real. Yes it’s great that from the time when I was a kid and using two cocoa tins and a bit of string to communicate with my mate over the garden fence, science has progressed to phones the size of a Hobbit’s knee cap that will connect you with Uncle Bruce in Australia.

But where is this taking us ultimately? Call me a grumpy old git – you won’t offend me, I’m used to it – but surely technology is there to enhance our lives and make the world a better place.

These devices I submit, are achieving just the opposite, because when technology, and crucially the manufacturing mega-companies behind it, begin to control the people they are meant to serve, watch out.

For this reason I am pretty much a technophobe and when items of high tech equipment often carry with them manuals and instruction books scores of pages long, I have to ask myself how this is making life easier and less stressful.

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