The readers always write — this time about smartphones
Recently, I wrote about the debate I was having with myself over whether to finally succumb to temptation and purchase a smartphone. I always have been good at resisting temptation. To this day, my contemporaries marvel at my ability to get through college in the seventies without experimenting with drugs — not even once, not even pot. If you lived through that decade, you understand the significance of that statement. Admittedly, part of the reason was that I was too busy drinking beer — if I were to learn that my dormitory was the model for Delta Tau Chi in the movie Animal House, I would not be surprised. (If you think I’m kidding, consider this: a squirt-gun battle once got so out of hand that it began to rain in the TV room one floor below — I kid you not.)
But the far bigger reason was that I was terrified of the addictive power of recreational pharmaceuticals. I had seen too many grade-school and high-school classmates fall down the rabbit hole, some never to emerge again. That was not going to happen to me.
So, I am wary of anything that might be addictive, and wrote that I was concerned about the obvious addictive powers of smartphones. I know people — so do you — who are otherwise intelligent and sane beings, but who have allowed themselves to become consumed by these gadgets. I also expressed concern that once I had one of these devices, the world around me would expect that I be at their beck and call 24/7/365, a prospect that is equally troubling.
As often happens, several readers weighed in on the topic. Some said that they shared my concerns. Others did not. Of those, the general consensus was that I should just turn the damn thing off when I didn’t want to be bothered by it. In theory, that seems like sound advice. But I don’t think it will be so quite so simple in practice. Yesterday, I was in a staff meeting, during which we discussed how to better take advantage of social media such as Facebook and Twitter. I was asked by a colleague what I had decided concerning a smartphone purchase. I answered honestly — as I always do — and reported that I had moved ahead with the purchase that very morning. Big mistake. Immediately, another colleague chimed in, enthusiastically suggesting that I’ll be able to tweet to my heart’s content on the nearly two-hour commute — each way — that I endure every day. See? I don’t even have the damn thing yet, and already it’s starting.
In the end, my journalistic and civic-minded instincts tipped the scale in the direction of taking the smartphone plunge. Last week, as I was leaving the office, numerous fire apparatus pulled up to one corner of our building. I walked down the street to see what was happening. My first thought was relief that the problem was across the street in a parking facility. My next thought was that if I had a smartphone, I could capture video of the event — the device I am purchasing records in high definition — that I might be able to post, as I also am the editor of Fire Chief magazine. My final thought was that, had this been another type of emergency, I might have been able to capture video that first responders might have found useful. These all are good reasons for jumping on board the smartphone express.
In the interest of full disclosure, the fact that I watched my 4-year-old niece’s tee-ball game this past weekend also was a factor. I lacked the foresight to bring my video camera — OK, I forgot to bring it — and I thought to myself that my smartphone would have saved the day, if only I had one in my pocket. I also at one point thought that it would be wonderful to watch a movie streamed from Netflix. Do you have any idea just how boring a tee-ball game can be?
What do you think? Tell us in the comment box below.