In order to facilitate communication while I am away at college, I acquired a smartphone, specifically the iPhone 5S.
It’s a very useful phone. I can use it as a map, a Bible, a notebook, a handheld entertainment system, a social network and a friend locator (thanks to a cool app called PingPoint my friends designed). I can also use it as a phone.
One thing I regret about getting a smartphone is the increased amount of time I spend in cyberspace. Cyberspace is somewhat of an outdated term, but it creates an accurate image of a space apart from the real world. I mainly use my phone for accessing Facebook and reading the New York Times. Reading the Bible is probably fourth, with 2048 and Dots close behind. I want to focus on those first two, because they represent a more significant departure from my pre-smartphone life than the last two. Facebook and the New York Times offer an escape from whatever I’m doing at the current moment. In fact, the New York Times is the more insidious app because unlike Facebook, it’s intellectual. I can read up on the latest world news, arts reviews, and opinion columns whenever I want. When that get’s too boring, I can always stalk my friends on Facebook. Occasionally, I’ll stalk other friends on Facebook while I’m with my friends.
That brings me to my main concern. Is the real world too mundane? Most people would say that traveling is a mundane activity. I will admit that a smartphone is a useful travel tool, for its navigational, music-playing, entertainment, and communicative abilities. On the other hand, I used to read books, draw, or write when I traveled. I still do that, but I’m always tempted to pull my attention away from that to look at my phone. What about something more interesting, say a party? There are lots of interesting people, and plenty of things to do. And yet, I still find myself turning to my phone.
Now, I don’t expect myself to be a monk and live every single moment and be excruciatingly in touch with the world. After all, I’ve used books and music to distract myself for far longer than I’ve owned a smartphone. But the smartphone makes it much more difficult to find times of solitude and times of connection. Nothing to do? Smartphone. Don’t want to socialize? Smartphone.
My smartphone is an enabler. It makes it extremely easy to be lazy, which is of itself an easy thing to do. That’s the smartphone curse.