The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Is The Smart Phone The Modern Version Of The Cigarette?
November 10, 2015, 6:20 am
Filed under: Culture, Smartphones, Social Commentary

Over the years, I’ve talked – hypocritically, given my gadget addiction – about societies obsession with technology.

How something that was created to serve us now rules us.

How we are all junkies to the power of the screen …

How we turn to it whenever we find ourselves with a minute of freedom … whenever we feel we are not being stimulated enough in the ‘real World’ … when we want to quieten our kids

When I was younger, I used to see office workers standing outside their offices, huddled around ashtrays, smoking on their cigarettes. Now, they are huddled around their smartphone … getting their fix through twitter, snapchat or tinder.

There’s a bunch of reasons for why this might be the case.

And no, I’m not talking about cigarettes being a filthy, dangerous habit – even though they are.

I’m talking about issues like social dissatisfaction … unemployment … the need to belong … loss of hope … the cult of celebrity.

Of course technology is also a wonderful thing – it has changed lives and industry in countless positive ways – I’m simply saying we are reaching a point where maybe we are losing sight of the brilliant things we are inadvertently giving up.

What’s frightened me is how Otis – from 5 months old – was captivated by the iPhone/iPad.

For someone who is a tech groupie, I had told Jill that I would rather we keep this stuff away from him – and we did – only for him to see them in the corners of the rooms … blinking at him, tempting him over with pictures and sounds.

The iPhone helped him crawl.

Sadly I’m not joking. He saw it on the end of our bed one day and willed himself to get to it.

The sound of accomplishment he made when he finally got his hands on it will always stay with me … both for good and bad reasons.

The other thing that has blown me away is how quickly he worked out his finger could make things move to his command on the screen.

How did he know this?

We had to develop that skill but for my son, it was natural.

You have to give Apple respect for creating a navigation system that a literal baby can use.

Fortunately he is more interested in the cover of the iPad than the iPad itself – and that’s important to me. Not just because it has been proven that overuse of smart devices actually stunts a child’s development, but because I don’t want him to spend his life with his head pointed down towards a screen, but up towards the wonders of life.

I say all this because I saw a photograph collection where the photographer had taken photos of families using smartphones and then airbrushed them out. By doing this, he highlights our obsession and over-reliance on a device that, for many, is creating a barrier to the World rather than a gateway to it. [See the photo at the top of this post]

Have a look. It’s brilliant and scary all at the same time and it might – just might – make you put whatever device you’re reading this on, down for a while.

[And let’s face it, if my writing hasn’t done that for you already, you have problems]

More info on the background to the project can be seen here.

24 Comments so far
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Guess we know what Otis will be spending his inheritance on. That’s if you haven’t spent it all on windmills and wifi gadgets.

Comment by DH

You sound like Jill.

Comment by Rob

And for a man who couldn’t let go of his mobile even when all they could do was make calls, you are not the person to set rules for digital gadget access. I’m a member of Team Otis on this one.

Comment by DH

Make that on every thing.

Comment by DH

in a choice between campbell and otis, id always be team otis even if he went and joined isis. he still wouldnt cause as much destruction as his fucking dad.

Comment by andy@cynic

To be fair to me, I’d be on team Otis too.

Except when the new iPhone comes out. Ha.

Comment by Rob

hey bazza, campbell has just given you your new pr shit. iphone 66, has the power to advance babies development. better than “funnest iphone yet” or whatever shit your media arts wankers vomited up recently.

Comment by andy@cynic

Otis is growing up so quickly. I know it is his first birthday soon, but it only seems a few months ago that he was born. It appears he will be a chip off his fathers block.
The photographic project is interesting. What interests me is how eery the images look without the device in them. Alarming.

Comment by Lee Hill

He is. He’s walking now … blows my mind. And yes, he’s 1 next month. How on earth has that happened?!

Comment by Rob

its called time and despite you not changing your fashion for the past 30 fucking years, even you are experiencing it.

Comment by andy@cynic

My daughters started crawling to reach their favorite book. Yours starts crawling to reach his favorite ipad. Evolution.
The photo exhibition is excellent. I will send the link around the company and see how confused it makes the programmers and engineers.

Comment by George

They work for an internet business, surely they’ve seen it already?

Comment by John

Based on my experience there, the only things they see are code and the only things they listen to is Norwegian death metal. So maybe they haven’t.

Comment by Rob

You’re giving them too much credit John. But even if they have seen it, it would be good for them to see it again. Or I should say it would be good for me to make them see it again.

Comment by George

So Otis going for your ipad means he’s going to smoke?

Comment by Billy Whizz

No, but it might damage his health.

Comment by Pete

But I’m sure Android powered tech is fine for kids health.

Comment by Pete

That’s why I know I’m a hypocrite Pete, I use it all the time but I want to curb my sons access to it. I have to not use the phone in his presence – it’s so bloody hard for me – but even I’m not that much of a dick to use my tech in front of his face and then say it’s bad for him.

Comment by Rob

In my usual spirit of positivity, let me recommend a well-written book that addresses this nicely

And while I’m at it. Ciaran chastised me for crticising that light/football thing you posted some time back and wondered if I could be more positive. So here’s the sort of solution I’d go for – not a kickstarter thing, but proven technology.

Comment by John

I’m just trying to come to terms with your positivity.

Comment by Rob

Have the Birkenstocks helped him walk? Under a year is pretty good.
You wouldn’t believe the amount of folks I nearly run over on my bike everyday, head down looking at their phone.
It’s also amazing looking at the attention spans of younger people in the office.. In fact one lad identified he had a problem concentrating so downloaded the bloody mindfulness app

Comment by Northern

Are you saying my son is advanced for his age?

Brilliant, it’s official and I can tell people that I’m not just being a proud Dad, I’m quoting the great Northern.

As for people walking with their heads down … Asia does it better than everyone else. Not only does everyone walk with their head permanently down, when they see something of interest, they just stop.

Middle of the pavement.

Top of the escalator.

Doesn’t matter. And yet, if you bump into them, they look at you like you’re trying to mug them. Mind you, it could be because they know I’m from Nottingham.

Comment by Rob

Fight or flight is a strong instinct, so we have to consider that Otis is walking because he wants to get away from something.

Comment by John

[…] An iPad encouraged him crawl at 10 months old. […]

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