The surface area of the Earth covers 510 million square kilometers. The surface area of the average smart phone screen is about 10.5 square inches. One would imagine that the vast expanse of our planet, when up against such insignificant competition, would have no difficulty in holding our attention. In reality, the reverse seems to be true – so many of us are so hypnotized by the glow of our tiny little LCD screens that we could care less about what is going on in the world around us.
Cellular phones have provided tremendous conveniences and greatly accelerated flow of information and facilitated the speed of communication. They have also, in many ways, become a public nuisance, and a potentially dangerous source of distraction. With the tremendous rise in popularity of the smart phone, “convenience” factors such as touch screens, hands free devices, and customizable ring-tones that have been added to the cell phone since it was first introduced are now magnified and diversified in many ways.
What was once a public soundtrack composed largely of “Fur Elise” and other annoyingly oft-repeated ringtones, is now a dizzying collection of pings and pongs, dings and dongs, bells and whistles, and sound effects of every description as our phones notify us of every new text message, email, Facebook notification, or calendar reminder, and provide a soundtrack to approximately one trillion different apps. It’s like being part of a telesymphony composed by a tone-deaf musician.
In the past, it was relatively easy to tell when the distracted driver next to you on the road was having a cell phone conversation. These days, hands-free and touch screens make it much harder to tell whether your fellow travelers are concentrating on the road, playing “Fruit Ninja,” or having a philosophical chat with an (artificially) intelligent voice assistant.
However, public etiquette and safety are not the only reasons to consider the current ubiquity of smart phones. While they can certainly be annoying and may even be dangerous in some situations, the majority of public smart phone use doesn’t affect anyHealthy Body except the person holding the device. Even so, smart phone dependence is approaching the point where some people would benefit from a good Samaritan coming along and physically rotating the users’ eyeballs upward to view the world around them.
It’s as though we discovered that it was possible to see the dim reflection of a rainbow in a puddle on the sidewalk, and never again bothered to look up to see the real rainbow arcing over our heads. Maybe all of us, not just the smart phone devotees, should resolve to look up more frequently. Somewhere in the 510 million square miles of the Earth’s surface, something interesting is probably happening.
Until next time,
Peace, love and vitamin C!