Saturday, November 8, 2014

Week Forty-five - How #mobile are you?

Technology is all around us, but have we become too addicted that we just can’t put it down?

Often when we think about technology we think of a computer or some sort of device we have bought to make our lives easier. And you are right to think this; we live in a world where we are all constantly connected. But is this connectivity and mobility good for us? I have recently experienced that information mobility is great but can also be hazardous and endanger our lives!

I have previously spoken about the new Gen Y who needs to constantly stay in touch and advances in technology have facilitated this. But if you look around its not just young people who are hooked onto a smart phone or a tablet, it’s everyone! We all like to stay constantly in touch with the world around us.

But when did the need to stay connected to information and virtual social networking begin? I still remember the days when having a touch screen device was “all the rave” and we used it mostly to play games. But interestingly it wasn’t that long ago and in the last 5 years we have seen smart phones grow from chunky plastic objects where you played games to multi-colour extra large devices that do everything for you. Every company wants us to snug their mobile or table in our hands. And it is this “snuggling” in our hands, which becomes an issue.

What do we use a smart phone for? Hardly anyone actually makes calls any more (we tend to talk to people through tweeter, i-messege, Facebook or whatsap) If you look over people’s shoulder you will see them staring at their Facebook page, news streams channels, a book, chat apps, pictures, films or TV programs! All these communication channels have been made accessible through 3G signal and free Wi-Fi everywhere! I was amazed when I realised that down deep in the bowels of the London underground you can now access all your needed social networking through free Wi-Fi provided and sponsored by Virgin Media!

So what is the issue here? I was particularly drawn to the dangers of mobile technology during my visit to London this week as I rushed through the crowds to get to my destination in time. I try to push my way through people and it struck me how many of them walk with their eyes firmly fixed to their mobile device and didn’t look where they were going. I had to avoid several in coming humans who where not looking where they were going. At one point I was almost in a collision with a man who was so engrossed in his social networking he was slowing me down. Have you heard of road rage? Well this was pavement rage! He became angry to the fact that I was trying to pass and I interrupted his virtual social networking. Who was right, the “walked and read” man or I? Well I guess this is an argument for another time.

This incident was followed by a lady who nearly got run over by a bus as she attempted to cross the street looking down at her phone! She wasn’t listening to music; I guess this was lucky; otherwise I’m not sure she would be tweeting anymore! And it didn’t stop there, there was an accident in the underground, a man had fallen onto the tracks and I couldn’t help but thinking if perhaps he was also looking down at his mobile device while standing extremely closed to the edge of the platform...

I am all for new technology and what brings to our lives but I do believe we have to examine the way we use it. Being constantly connected has brought many great benefits as well as easier ways to stay in touch. I love the fact that through this new technology you are able to reach anyone anywhere in the world 24 hours a day. If you need something form someone, you are able to get to the person and connect. However, there is a time and place for everything and we must control how we communicate with each other.

We all know that texting or looking at your phone while driving its illegal and can cause accidents, as it distracts you and take your attention away from the road. The same should apply when we are on the streets. Texting, Virtual Social Networking or readying and watching anything in your screen while walking is as dangerous as doing it on a car; it causes accidents and can take people’s lives. I think this is getting out of hand and one day we will wake up to the fact that people are walking like Zombies through the streets. This becomes more evident in London or any big city due to the larger crowds of people as you can witness this at a bigger scale. But anywhere you are you can see how technology is taking over our lives, specially at times where we should not be connected and paying attention to where we are going.

You wouldn’t see someone walking and readying a book or a newspaper, so why can’t we put down our screens for those few moments in our lives and focus on the road ahead? Are you reading this blog while you are walking? If so STOP! Look where you are going!

Trust me when I tell you that we already spend far too much time looking at our mobile devices every day; take a break; walk and enjoy the view around you. You will learn a lot when you look at where you are going and who knows, things around you may even inspire you! If you are still single and looking for love, then definitely put your device down, you may miss coming in contact with those eyes across the road and never connect with your soul mate! And if this is not enough motivation, how about just simply do it to stay a live….

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