I write this article in the background of ongoing war between the ‘apples’, ‘berries’ and ‘galaxies’ over the launch of their ‘fruits’ and ‘stars’. Yes, I am referring to the smartphone market. I have a reason for keeping my topic specific to smartphones and not technology in general. I will explain the reason later in this article. From the invention of Internet to that of mobile phone and now the latest being the smartphone which is a merger of the internet and the mobile phone technology, we have seen how information and communication have changed radically from a simple process to a highly complex phenomena, all within a decade. It has changed the way we communicate and gain access to information. It will not be an exaggeration if I say it has changed the way we live because communication is a major part of our daily life.
I have the privilege of experiencing both ‘pre – Internet’ and the Internet era. The first half of my college days were spent mostly in libraries frantically searching for the right book or information. Then came the Internet like a God sent gift. It is amazing how quickly we ‘ditched’ our books and embraced whole-heartedly the Internet. Within a few months, library and books became things of the past. The information explosion, the speed and ease with which we had access to tons and tons of information made life not only easy but also more purposeful. The precious time which these technologies saved for us, was put to better use for betterment of life. And then, almost like a sequel to the Internet, came the mobile phone. Like the books, phone booths quickly vanished from the streetscape. Each of these technologies in isolation served their purpose quite well. With the Internet, information was just a click away. Mobile phones connected us to our personal and business life anywhere, anytime. Social media and such similar applications kept us entertained and connected with our friends. These are like powerful engines with very high utilitarian value. With them, life became efficient and streamlined yet grounded to reality.
It would have all been fine if it had remained that way. But the thirst for invention, advancement and more comfort is inbuilt in our genes. Therefore, the humankind integrated these powerful engines into one single super power engine called the smartphone. This invention completely erased the barriers of time, space and context. Information, connection and sharing all packed into one handy gadget called the smartphone! It is indeed a super power engine! Now, is it not imperative that the ‘driver’ of such an amazing engine know what he/she is driving and how to drive it responsibly while at the same time, reap the maximum benefit from it? Smart phone is smart in every sense of the word. But the real question here is not how smart our phone is but rather how smart are we in using it. By smart, I mean the improved quality and efficiency of life by using technology and do not mean staying on-line 24/7 calling oneself ‘tech savvy’ and causing havoc to one’s physical and mental health. Yes, smartphone is a valuable assistant to a businessman, a good friend to a traveler. But how much percentage of the smartphone using population belong to the businesses or travelers class? It cannot be more than 50% at the maximum. Then how does the remaining population use its smartphone? It is fine even if they under use it. But what is worrying is the over use or possible misuse of it in the hands of people who either do not need such a power gadget or those who simply lack the self-disciple to use it properly. So many facilities with one touch of a finger is a double-edged sword. Apart from increasing cases of circulating inappropriate content through phones, which goes viral within minutes of its release and does enough damage even before any action could be taken, people have started to spend more and more time on this yet another brain child of technology called the social media. Smartphones make it all the more easier for sharing content in social media.We feel compelled to be online 24/7. The concept of ‘time and a place for anything’ is completely forgotten. Most of the time hooked to our phones either posting or texting, we are never ‘here and now’ in our real world. Such behavior, when continued over a period of time, can have adverse effect upon the physical and mental health. This one of the trending topics in medical journals now a days.
India is a huge consumer market. The industry sells for only one reason and that is profit. But we, the consumers, buy for various reasons. It could be for business, entertainment, status symbol or anything and everything. Whatever may be the reason, if we keep in mind that technology is only a valuable accessory to our lives and not the other way round, we are sure to use our smartphone responsibly and extract the full benefit of it. Smartness is not excess or complexity. It is simplicity, efficiency and effectiveness. Buy only those things that add value to everyday life (I assume that we all include good health in our definition of Value). Fight the urge to join the bandwagon. The next time you wish to upgrade your phone, ask yourself whether it is a necessity or an obsession. Ask the same question whenever you feel the urge to check into your smart phone – Is it really required to check in or is it just a compulsive behavior? This kind of simple self-discipline can go a long way in keeping our relationship with our smartphone healthy and happy.