This week, Sarah Kwong, a final year student studying Writing Fashion & Culture at Southampton Solent University and author of blog s-is-for-super.blogspot.com is turning off technology.
Buzz. Beep. Ring.
Not just alert-related nouns, these noises are the sounds of today (and I’m not just talking about that irritating child playing Angry Birds on the train next to you.) No, this is what today sounds like for most of us on the go.
Like every other busy girl, I have one of those smartphones, so emails, Facebook comments and all sorts of wild alerts get delivered to me right on the dot. Whilst useful (as it is clearly fundamental that I am notified of ‘JAKE’S BIG MASH UP LEAVIN DO’ so I can immediately hit 'not attending’), there are points when I just wish I could end it all.
You may argue that I could just stop them, and you’re right: a few simple taps in the settings section of my phone would put an end to all these messages. However, the problem with that is that every so often I get important work emails, so it’s handy to be able to view and reply to these immediately. Perhaps I just need to accept that having a phone is standard these days. Even 12-year-olds are swanning around with their Samsung Toccos, tapping messages out with their eyes closed.
It was an afternoon in Nando’s, however, that brought the severity of the situation to light. A young, good looking couple were sat opposite each other looking all loved up. Please, I prayed, don’t start petting each other. God must have been on my side, as the next thing I know they’re both tapping away furiously on their phone devices, uninterested in each other. No talking, no eye contact, no playful footsie under the table - just complete and utter adoration for their smartphones. I think I even saw the girl’s eyes light up at the touch of a button. Unless they were messaging each other, my boyfriend and I agreed, it was all very sad.
"Even 12-year-olds are swanning around with their Samsung Toccos, tapping messages out with their eyes closed"
The next morning, I sat with said boyfriend in the kitchen as usual, eating breakfast. And, as is his habit, he pulled his phone out of his pocket and loaded up Facebook, followed by BBC Sport. As I slurped down my Raisins, Oats and More, he looked at me with a nervous grin on his face. “It’s tradition,” he argued. Tradition? I thought to myself. Nobody knows what that means anymore! Of course I didn’t release this verbal, grandma-esque tirade, but it started to hassle me.
Am I wrong for wanting out of the social, technological loop? I am a confessed abuser. I constantly check my emails on my BlackBerry, and have all the sites I visit daily bookmarked. So yes, I am guilty. Yet I yearn for a pause; a little break in which all electronic devices, including computers, are taken from our possession and we are placed outside with ‘items from the past’ such as books, magazines and, scarily, each other.
What would we do? Would we all flounder and feel lost? There’s only one way to find out. So who’s up for turning all their devices off and putting their fingers up to technology? No, I didn’t think so.
Sometimes I have nightmares about future technological developments. It’s only going to get worse, but it’s out of our control, so we may as well embrace these changes. On a positive note, I suppose it is useful to see Facebook photos I’m tagged in before anyone else. After all, nobody - especially my boss - needs to see me perching drunkenly on the toilet.
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