3G phones are wonderful things. They allow us to access the Internet and everything on it no matter where we are? What do most people do with their expensive 3G and 4G phone? They play games and update their Facebook statuses.

Really, is this the best use of anyone’s precious time on Earth?

Pre-Social Media

Just a few years ago, before the obsession with social media websites spread like wild-fire through the younger generations, you would see people reading books at airports and on trains. You would see people talking to each other and taking an interest in their surroundings.

I used to teach in a secondary school. This was up to 2003, pre social media websites. Phones were banned in school; I cannot see any school getting away with banning mobile phones nowadays. I think secondary school playgrounds must be very quiet and sad places now as children never talk to each other (except on the phone of course).

In the Social Media Age

Every single person on the train, on a bus or in the airport sits with his or her head down, staring at and fingering the screen of their smart phone. Even when they have no reception these zombies stare at their phones’ screens as they play games on them.

Every young person I see has his or her head down instead of looking where they are going or at their everyday surroundings. Sometimes they look up briefly when they have to cross a road, but it is only to make the crossing decision, their heads are back down again as they actually cross the road.

Post-Social Media Age

If it does not come soon we will have lost the ability to focus on anything further than 18 inches away, lost the ability to speak and will all be neurotically isolationist in the way we live.

Freedom of Choice

This is the argument that people use, and it is valid. If someone wants to spend $900 on an iPad plus a $40 a month data package in order to tell their contacts whenever they use the bathroom or buy a new pair of socks, then who am I to dispute their right to decide how to spend their money. It is sad though.

All the knowledge of multiple generations available at the touch of a few buttons on the Internet and all most people do is to log on to Facebook . . .

Am I Being Elitist?

Not at all, I do not deny anyone the ability to use their 3G phone as they choose; neither do I wish to limit Internet access to the chosen few. What I would like to do is to change the way people use their time.

Do I have a 3G Phone?

No, I sometimes think that email access away from home might be useful, but then I think again and realise that if it is email then it is not urgent and will wait until I arrive back home and switch my computer on.

Would I Have a 3G Phone?

If someone gave me one, I would take it, but I would never pay the arm and a leg prices that manufacturers demand. I have looked into 3G sim free mobile phones and decided that that is the best option if I ever go for a smart phone, but it is a long way off yet.

I am connected to the Internet at home, I work online and I need a break from all that connectivity when I am not working.

How Do I Manage?

I smile at people I meet instead of gazing zombie-like at a phone. I take an interest in everything around me from the way the trees rustle in autumn to the flight of a bat over the hedge at sunrise. I have a life.


Image: freedigitalphotos.net