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I'm on the train!
I wouldn’t say I was a particularly early adopter of the mobile phone. Maybe it was the yuppies of the 1980’s with their brick-sized mobile’s or the idiot who would talk loudly and incessantly on the train with the inevitable tag-line “I’m on the train” that put me off. I could never quite see the immense appeal of mobile phones to my children as they were growing up and viewed the classroom one-upmanship around models and features as superficial nonsense. I was one of those “all I want is one that makes and receives phone calls” people, much to the annoyance of my children who regarded me as something of a fossil. In line with my stuffy disdain of mobiles I feared that “txt spk” would reduce the literary standards of the next generation, a point perfectly made when a struggling old bookshop went out of business in my local town and was poignantly replaced by a shiny branch of Phones 4 U (I think they meant “Phones For You”). I wasn’t on the same page as the rest of the world. Quite simply, I didn’t get it.
I still don’t really.
Of course I have moved slightly with the times here. Although I came to the smartphone (inevitably) late I can see the immense value and convenience of smartphones. Instantly being able to access just about anything in the world is a wonderful thing. I can keep up with the news on the hoof, check my e-mails, play a game, take photos and send them to people, watch a movie, film a movie, position myself on a map. To an old codger like me, I have to concede it’s amazing. Not to mention the enormous range of apps that I can buy which allow me to do even more amazing things. I can name that tune, find recipes that match the eclectic range of ingredients I have in my fridge, distort the faces of my friends and family in photos in supposedly amusing ways, establish which of the bewildering array of bottles of wine in front of me are any good, tune a guitar and identify if there’s a good golf course nearby. And, of course, I can throw rocks at angry birds whilst simultaneously crushing candy!
But wonderful though I understand these things to be, I still don’t quite get it. Not really. Even though I have embraced the smartphone enthusiastically in my life, there’s quite a bit of “fossil” in me still. I still tut huffily at people who fiddle with their smartphones at the dinner table. I haven’t yet got the hang of “predictive text” and resent the idea of somebody effectively finishing my sentences for me. I haven’t the faintest idea what Pokemon Go is but I know I don’t like it.
And recently we’ve just had some utterly amazing statistics come out which have highlighted the degree to which these things have taken over our lives. People are looking at smartphones over 100 times a day with half of our young people waking up so they can look at them in the dead of night. We are truly addicted to these things. Surely there comes a point when these things move from being a blessing to being a curse….?
One of the more disturbing things about smartphones, of course, is our inclination to want to use them when we’re driving. The police have reported a massive increase in accidents caused by people checking their smartphones, texting or making calls while driving. In fact, such is their concern that they have just increased the penalty for doing so to a fine and six points. We’re so addicted to these phones, that I don’t really believe the increased penalty will make much of a difference. I can’t help thinking there must be a way of ensuring that your phone becomes unusable when you’re on the move. Now that’s an app I’d buy. In fact I’d go further than that and lobby for that function to become built in to all new phones.
Brilliant, problem solved. Until I want to phone home and tell the present Mrs Jenkins: “I’m on the train!”