Living life through a smartphone

Last updated 05:00 03/09/2012

According to actual statistics, we look at them 150 times a day. Around 65 per cent of teenagers use them when they are hanging out with friends. If you are under 25, then 10 per cent of your mates will use it while they are having sex, and 24 per cent of us miss important moments because we are busy taking photos with them (I'm not sure if those two last ones are related).

Smartphones are the new black, they are the new "it" girl, they are our new right hand. But good grief, they are killing every other part of our lives.

From checking in on Facebook, to tweeting what you're eating for dinner, right through to Intsagramming a photo of the band you're watching or keeping tabs on work emails at all hours of the day and night, never before have our lives been so easy to document instantaneously.

And it's never been so easy to be distracted from what is actually happening in those moments.

None of what I'm saying is new, but this is a "discussion" I seem to be having constantly with people around me.  I'm not hanging anyone out to dry here - I am just as bad, if not worse than a lot of my friends - but it's unusual for a day to go by without me having to ask (ever so politely) for a phone to be put away during dinner, or a cosy hour watching My Kitchen Rules.

I have even had to instigate a "No Phones in Bed" rule - no one needs to be playing virtual tennis at midnight, right?

It's a question I have occasionally asked bands, in particular, when I interview them: what do you think about people essentially watching gigs through the camera lens of a phone?  

Most of them get why people do it, some even like it because it means someone is capturing just what the band is like live, but more often than not there is a kind of sadness that people are foregoing that actual experience for the chance to watch it back on a screen the next day.

But it's hard. When you have all these tools and gadgets at your disposal, sometimes it's all you can do to stop yourself from using them.  Technology was invented to be helpful...right?

A Singaporean company has recently set up the Social Rehab website [ ] with helpful rules to live by (maintain eye contact with people, not your phone; no phones on the table top) as well as a social rehab toolkit made up of Instagram filter glasses, and Facebook "Like" stickers to be used at a phone-free night out.  For every hour your phone is locked away, they will take 10 per cent off your bill.

It might be gimmicky, but I like the idea. I just don't like that we have become a generation (and it is a generation thing, my friends) that need prodding to engage in the real world.

Wanting to talk to, not tweet, people - it's kind of revolutionary.

- Auckland Now

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CM   #1   07:44 am Sep 03 2012

As a grand old 28 year old guy im forever reminding people we used to actually socialise with other human things (kinda sound like my father here). I often think it would be nice if some of this tech was not so prevalent. I see a generation of people who can hardly socialise in the real world, and i dont see it getting any better any time soon.

Maybe the social rehab web site is onto something.

Laura   #2   08:21 am Sep 03 2012

... The main reason I broke up with my ex boyfriend was simply this, he could not put his phone down for more than a minute to do the most simple of tasks, grocery shopping, holding a conversation, making dinner, on a date. He was fine until he got the smartphone, once he had the smartphone, it literally ended out relationship. A smartphone won't give you what human contact gives you... and at the end of the day, Siri isn't real.

Hipster-Douchebag   #3   08:59 am Sep 03 2012

No-one in our family of 5 is totally attached to their smartphone, with the possible exception being when a phone was first purchased and setting it up, checking out the features, loading apps, etc. was somewhat of a totally immersive process.

As for "watching gigs through the lens of a camera" - a couple of years ago, I went to a Dylan Moran gig, and he totally nailed the woamn next to us that stood up and took a photo of him. "Stop that! You realise what you've just done? 'Here is a photo of the moment at the Dylan Moran show that I wrecked for everyone, and totally missed myself because I was taking this stupid photo!'"

Mark   #4   10:06 am Sep 03 2012

Too true. I'm guilty of checking my phone every five minutes or so, although I don't let it get in the way of interaction in person with others. Phone at the dinner table is a big NO for me

Mark   #5   02:01 am Sep 04 2012

My wife is always texting or face-booking when we are hanging out. I actually write a blog and have an app on the market, so I would have good reason to be on my smart phone often, but she is the more common culprit on this topic :) I read in an article recently about a game you can play at dinner. Everyone sits down at the table and stacks their phone "Jenga style" on the table. The first person to touch their phone during dinner pays the WHOLE bill. If you all make it until the check show up, you pay your own share. I write for in case you wanna check it out.

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