In 1849 there was a man who lived in a two-storeyed building with a laboratory in his basement. He was a scientist who liked spending much of his time in the laboratory while his wife liked spending time in their bedroom upstairs. At times they wanted to communicate but no one was willing to go to the other. This man felt that climbing the stairs all the time was a daunting task and the wife equally felt that going to the basement to tell her husband something was not an easy task either. This man is Antonio Giuseppe Meucci, an Italian who invented the first telephone communication from his laboratory in the basement to his bedroom upstairs in order to ease his communication with his wife. Even though he is credited as the first person to invent the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell got the first U.S patent for his device in 1876.
It was not until 1973 when Motorola researcher and executive, Martin Cooper developed the first handheld mobile phone. Guess what! It weighed 1.1 kilograms. The evolution of phones has continued until we now have smartphones with touch screens. For some of us who lived in the 1990s, our parents couldn’t afford a mobile phone. The phones were a reservation of the rich businessmen and politicians.
As we speak today, a three-year-old child can use an iPad or a smartphone. Not bad. We have to all agree that smartphones have made our life easier in terms of communication and entertainment. That’s not all, people have used these smartphones to increase productivity as they can work on the go or remotely. Reading emails, scheduling meetings, having conferences, calendars, to-do lists just but a few. In the year 2016, airlines could not allow you to travel with Samsung Note 7 because they were prone to an explosion due to battery defects. That’s is not the danger I am talking about. There has been so much improvement on phones with inbuilt fuses such that you can leave it charging until it’s full and nothing happens even if it remains on the charger. It’s not advisable though because, in case of a power surge, it might explode.
I’m actually talking about social danger where smartphones have spoiled relationships between friends, between family members, and even between spouses. A good example is taking a friend for lunch and instead of having a meaningful conversation, they are busy on their phones. They are either chatting or following something on social media. A relationship loses its meaning the moment two or more people involved cannot have a concrete conversation. Even though technology eases how we operate, the indispensable quality of the importance of human beings can never and will never be replaced.
Some people will argue that phones can only be dangerous if used irresponsibly. People have retorted to online gratification even from people who don’t know them personally. I remember in the early 1990s we never had digital photographs, my mother would organize for a photoshoot. That was a special day for the family. The photographer always made sure everything was alright then counting 1,2,3. The reason being, they used films and nothing was to be wasted or edited. Then the long wait, sometimes up to a month. Life was good. No one complained. With this era of smartphones, you take a friend for lunch but instead of focusing on a constructive conversation, they are busy taking pictures, editing, and posting on social media.
Do you think that phones are slowly expanding the social distance between friends and relatives?