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Smartphones, ownership and hope for the fate of humanity

Do you own your phone or does it own you? | DanielPocock.com

Have you started thinking about new year's resolutions for 2016? Back to the gym or giving up sugary drinks? Many new year's resolutions have a health theme. Unless you have a heroin addiction, there may not be anything else in your life that is more addictive and has potentially more impact on your health and quality of life than your mobile phone...


I have conflicting opinions about this article.

Usually I carry a dumb phone, so I'm not completely disconnected, but I'm mostly self-limited to "useful" communications by the fact that I have to pay for calls and SMSs. It also has a few useful features like showing the time¹, an alarm clock and a led torch, but that's it.

I also carry a smartphone, but I've never been able to trust it with my personal data, so there is no email on it and no communication software. It's also always offline to preserve battery, unless I'm actually using it for something (usually maps). It does have an offline wikipedia reader, which is the second thing I use it more often for. About half of the time I try to use it, however, it is off because I forgot to charge it, unless I've planned in advance to use it (which usually means I'm also carrying a laptop and will need to tether it).

So I guess that I should be agreeing with the article that offline life is better, and that we shouldn't depend on phones in our daily life, and mostly I do.

On the other hand, I'm not so sure that all of the people who seem to be interacting with a phone are actually disconnected from the local reality.

More than once I've experienced the use of smartphones as part of a local interaction: one typical case involves people having a conversation IRL and checking some fact on the internet and then sharing the results with the rest of the local group.

Actually, most² of the time I've seen a smartphone being used at our table while eating with friends or collegues it was being passed around to show something to the people at the table, or at the very least being read aloud from, so it was part of the local experience, not a way to disconnect from it.

I'm sure that there are cases of abuse, but I still have hope that most of the connected humanity is managing to find a good balance between online and offline.

¹ I don't want to go back carrying a wrist watch. I remember them as something unconfortable that ended up hitting stuff as I moved my hands, and I'd rather have my wrists free while I type, thanks. Pocket watches, OTOH...

² the main exception involved one young adult in the middle of significantly older relatives, which is a somewhat different issue, and one that I believe predated smartphones (IIRC in my case similar situations involved trying to be somewhere else by reading a book).
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There's someone selling phones with "replicant" pre-installed, old models of high price, but that should give you the least privacy concern as you can shut-down the model, if I understand correctly.
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