Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Dose of Techno-Pessimism: The Problem(s) With the Smartphones

It's up online here.

I'm glad to get some of these thoughts down. I'm really interested in those who disagree with me and might be optimistic about these things. Please, please continue the conversation in the comments below or email me.

8 comments:

Adam said...

Adam Langley Thanks for writing ad sharing! Obviously the fact that I wouldn't have read this except that I have a smart device is something to consider. You raise good questions. And I agree that there are certainly disadvantages that come with these devices. Ironically though, for me, I've become less compartmentalized in many respects. Especially with cloud technology, it's an incredible boon to be able to have ubiquitous access to me todo lists, calendar, database of information and ideas in Evernote, etc. that itself makes it worth it to me. For the first time in my life, I don't feel so scattered. Certainly it can be distracting in other ways. But to me the answer is to practice discipline, and perhaps schedule an unplugged rhythm, not to chunk this incredibly valuable tool altogether. But that's just my experience.

Joshua Banner said...

Thanks Adam for your thoughts! I'm glad you've been thinking about these things and working out the discipline to stay less scattered. That's good judgement. I don't hear much concern or conversation about the costs. And I appreciate that its your particular experience, yet for the church the questions are affecting our collective experience. I hope you can help kick up a conversation here with me.

andrewkadzban said...

"The elsewhere self" is precisely my caution. The invitation to constant stimulation and to be everywhere is actually the invitation to not be present. I've been in countless situations where Iphones have saved us--getting directions, finding a last minute restaurant that my vegetarian wife could enjoy--but what still makes me hesitant about leaping into the smartphone world is this temptation to avoid being present. To be comfortable in the presence of silence, of yourself, of boredom, of another is something that often takes effort and maturation. Smartphones, for me, would often be an excuse to avoid this hard work.

There's more I could say, but I think you said most of it quite well in your essay. I too would love to hear from those who disagree, though, because I'd love to be able to convince myself it's okay to buy an Iphone...

Adam said...

Right on brother. We need more people like you thinking critically about things like this. Thank you for that.

Here's a great article published this week about the benefits of periodical fasting from social media: http://lifehacker.com/5918784/how-30-days-without-social-media-changed-my-life

Amy said...

So I read your article from my android smartphone as I sat at home with my husband watching the Thunder game. This was after putting 4 foster kiddos to bed. As a foster mom, I could live without a smart phone but it has been a lifesaver in many instances. We have access to google voice which allows bio-families to call us without using our home phone (yep we still have one of those, too). It allows for texting bio moms and case workers when you really want to keep a record of interactions. It allows to manage a calendar system that is filled with court dates, counseling and doctors appointments, DHS visit and visits with families.

Do I rely too much on my smartphone...probably. Do we put our phones away at restaurants and meals...yes. Can it be a time suck...most def. But I'm thankful for this technology has provided a simple system to keep somewhat organized.

Joshua Banner said...

Amy! Your input is fantastic! Thank you for sharing.
Sounds like you've found a good tool. My hope with this essay was to open up a conversation that I don't believe is happening...anywhere. Maybe you've thought through these things and had good conversations however. I encourage you to keep thinking about the costs of using your smartphone? What in our society has created a need for such expediency? What other benefits could you discover by slowing down rather than adding more tools of expediency?

andrewkadzban said...

I noticed this article this morning. It's not completely linked to Josh's essay, but it's in the same realm. Check out this new study on smartphone usage and etiquette.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/21/americans-are-addicted-to-smartphones_n_1615293.html

Jon Brown said...

Hey Josh, thanks for the blog, it‘s making interesting reading for me.

So I always take my dad’s hand me down phones when he gets a new one, the last phone I had was a smart phone. I have been without one now for several months now but, with my current contract ending soon, could have easily settled for sliding into the usual upgrade scenario without giving it much thought. I then came across your article which got me thinking, I haven’t missed having one of these phones, the only time I used any social networking sites was when I had one of these phones, and I rarely even contemplate visiting Facebook or any other site at home. So it got me thinking even further, what is it going to add to my life by having a smartphone? As far as I can tell, it would make my life fuller, but it wouldn’t make it any richer.

After much thought I have decided that what I want is a simpler life with less distractions and more time and energy to concentrate on the things which matter most to me. I’m not saying that having a smartphone would necessarily stop me from doing those things, but my overarching decision in the end was made because the thought of owning a smartphone just made me feel under immense pressure, and even claustrophobic in one sense.

Anyway, thanks for the article which was obviously very timely for me. We must take the time to consider why we are making certain decisions more often. Marketing and current culture can begin to shape us and this should be the other way round.

Final conclusion - smartphones are neither good nor bad, they’re just not for me at the moment.