Shut That Phone Up and Put it down

Smart PhoneIt is illegal in Australia (and most countries in the world) to drive and ride a vehicle while using a hand-held mobile phone. Mobile phone use can distract the drivers and riders from the driving task. Studies have found that using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous as it slows reaction times and interferes with a driver’s perception skills and increases the chance of having a crash.

Driving is an activity that requires your full attention. It requires you to pay attention to every detail, analyse the visual/audible information received, respond effectively and react in a timely manner. These statements are also the fundamental requirements in order to communicate effectively. So why isn’t the use of mobile phone everywhere else not outlawed or at least controlled? How many other accidents or deaths have been caused by smart/mobile phone distractions?

It makes it very difficult to communicate to someone whose attention is constantly divided because they’re emotionally involved with their “Android” (“iOS” for AppleHeads and WP7 for Windows Users). In case you’ve been stuck under a rock for the past 10 years and just got out, Android, iOS and WP7 are the operating systems that drive those little devices called smart phones that are single-handedly killing old fashioned, intimate communication. You remember right, eye contact, body language, tone of voice, effective use of hands, posture etc. has been replaced by a handful of symbols like πŸ™ πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜› LOL ROFL etc.

We’ve become too accustomed to technology. Is it really making our life easier, or is it making us do more futile tasks? Think about it, about 50% of notifications are garbage like joke emails, useless information email/SMS, FB (Facebook) alerts, twitter alerts etc. 45% are requests/reminders from your family or friends so they’re semi-important. The other 5% (almost always phone calls) are very important like doctor’s surgery calling to advise that you’re late for your appointment, semi-important stuff that’s been escalated from an SMS to a phone call, a friend or family member in distress calling for advice, etc.

The primary method of notification of a phone is through an audible alert (whether it be a call, SMS, email, FB notification, FB message, the list goes on and on) usually set to the highest volume with vibration so that it is not missed. This way, every notification becomes a priority and demands attention. There’s no way to distinguish between what’s important and what’s not. As a result, we attend to each notification with the same reckless abandon, not realizing that we’ve become “zombies” under our devices “spell”.

We’re constantly bombarded with so much useless information that we are left confused. News on the internet are so sensationalised that the title is not related to the body of the article. It makes you wonder why we bother reading news on the internet at all. That’s just the thing, as advanced as technology has become right now, it is still so one dimensional that everything it disseminates has to be “Sensational”. Text articles have to have sensational titles to get people to read it. Pictures have to be amazing to get people to look at it. Facebook posts have to be shocking to get people to like it. Photos have to be revealing to get people to enjoy it. There’s no point being subtle these days, no one will even notice you.

A good rule of thumb that I follow is that the phone doesn’t get any immediate attention until it rings, I mean traditional “someone is calling” ring. Everything else can wait (put everything else on silent, and check them during allocated periods of the day). That way, you can focus on what’s important right here, right now. Better still, turn your phone off for a day or two and see if anyone visits you. Remember back in the day not too long ago when you say to your loved one that you’ll call them around 7ish just before you say goodbye. Remember the excitement and anticipation as you both go through the day apart waiting for that moment when the clock ticks past 7 o’clock. You eagerly wait by the phone to call or receive the call. We had no choice but to wait then, had to let the excitement build up, exercise restraint, had to force ourselves to get through the day with only our peaceful thoughts and memories to distract us… not the annoying, loud buzzing and ringing of an electronic device.

I miss those days.

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