Smartphones Making Us Smarter?

Subtitled – Facing Off With Facebook or Tweeting My Life Away

Nowadays in this high-tech world of ours every Tom, Jane, Bob and Mary has a smartphone.  These handy little gadgets have effectively become the center of the technology industry.  The computer world as we once knew it is being reshaped and will affect how we use these various devices.  These handheld attachments to the wired world, and their built-in cameras, allow their owners to update their friends and family on every little facet of their existence.  Complete with illustrative photos it happens almost instantly through social media like Facebook and Twitter.

But alas, do we really need to know that Susie just checked in at Joe’s Pool Emporium with friend Margie, accompanied by a photo of the two sitting at one of Joe’s booths with smiling faces and beers in-hand?  Do we really need to know about the wonderful evening/weekend/afternoon/day Sally just had with her bff? Do we really need to see a photo of that yummy salad bar plate one is enjoying at this very minute at the local pizza joint?  Ding ding notifies my smartphone, this just in!  Please!  Is this what our society in this modern age has come to?  Do we really need to know this stuff and right-up-to-the-second?

Now don’t get me wrong.  I love a lot of what I see and feel on Facebook.  Some status updates are downright hilarious, some inspirational.  Many are informative and keep me up on the latest news, opinion, pop-culture, the comings and goings of family and friends — what have you.  It’s great!  But one has to wade through a lot of chaff to get to the good stuff.  What follows are a few examples of authentic status posts on my favorite dose of reality called Facebook in just the past few days.  Just so you get my drift!  Note: The brackets [  ] contain my immediate, thoughtless, knee-jerk responses.

Just had dinner. Grilled Salmon at Carillon Point’s Beach Cafe.”  [Great! I’m stuck in Felony Way at McD’s with a very distant cousin, the Filet-O-Fish!]

Ron Paul in 2012!!!!!!!”  [Yippee, but waayyy too many exclamation marks!]

“What a husband. He is sacrificing half of his bedroom closet to add a door so we can enter the garage from our bedroom.”  [Huh?  This begs a number of questions!]

My stomach hurts!  [My eyes ache]

Why does roadkill have to be so disgusting? I mean the crows have to seperate the intestines from the body… no room to go around the dissection. I’m gonna vomit!”  [Sorry but way too much information!  Sometimes things are left better unsaid, don’t ya think?  Thanks though for leaving out the photos!]

I hate getting sick…uugghh”  [Don’t know anyone that loves it!  Hint: Avoid my friend above.]

Ron Paul for Pres!!!!”  [You again!  Sorry, not a chance!]

Well enough belly aching.  Hope you got that drift I referred to!

Along with all these “modern” conveniences come added taxing ailments, “afflictions of the digital age.”  Notice there always seems to be a price for all this fun we get to have?  Now the latest is that many Facebook participants are experiencing deep psychological problems, even depression.  I hear there’s a lot of that goin’ around.  You’ve all probably heard too how Facebook has been the unwitting conspirator of suicide and worse over the last few years.

Did you know recent studies show the social media giant may expose an individual to potentially jealousy-provoking information about their partner, which creates a feedback loop whereby heightened jealousy leads to increased surveillance of a partner’s Facebook page[?] And worse still, Persistent surveillance results in further exposure to jealousy-provoking information.   Sounds serious!   Jealousy/Envy is afterall one of those seven deadly sins.

Then there’s FOMO or the fear of missing out.  In her article earlier this year Do Social Networks Make You Feel Left Out?  Jenna Wortham from the New York Times wrote of the unexpected side effect of using social media sites and says:  While tuning into Facebook (and) Twitter … can provide a thrilling peephole of the daily lives of our social circle, there can sometimes be a darker side — an odd blend of anxiety, envy, inadequacy and, eventually, irritation that arises by seeing all the cool and interesting activities that everyone you know is up to.
Imagine that!  I guess I should be envious of all that I’m missing out on.  I mean an early evening stroll in the park does have its hypnotic effect, even if it is with someone I can’t stand!  Then of course reading that my friend Marcus is now friends with so and so “and 11 other people” gets my mind to wondering.  Then with a quick check of his stats and seeing that his friends out number mine by 12 people can have it’s debilitating effect on my psyche.  Darn!  I gotta catch up!!

I can’t help but notice too that the seemingly least consequential, even nonsensical posts, often are the ones that get the most comments.  What’s up with that?

I agree with Jenna from the Times and maintain that the good outweighs the bad.  I like having the window into the lives of my friends [and family] enough to swallow any feelings of inadequacy that might arise because of it.  I do think however we have a long ways to go in learning how to deal with all this new-found, easily accessible information that flows into our hand-held gadgets and other devices throughout the day.  Not to mention how we go about processing and managing it, in-light of our emotions, egos and tendencies to feel left out.

Could it possibly be that what is passed off as making us more productive, more connected, more in-tune is in actuality better labeled the dumbing down of humankind?  What are the emotional risks? Smartphones making us smarter? What do you think?

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2 comments on “Smartphones Making Us Smarter?

  1. Terri A. in Redding says:

    I’m sticking to my “dumb” phone and making time for FACE time! So much more meaningful.

    Call me old fashioned.

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