Posted by paul1838
About one year ago I discontinued my monthly cell phone contract with AT&T. I now have a Tracfone that costs $30 per month in prepaid minutes (significantly less than my former contract). I can access the internet from my prepaid phone, but I don’t, because it is a small flip phone and the screen is too small to be useful for browsing the web. Everyone I know owns a smart phone with a touch screen, cool apps, and a large enough display to make internet use worth while. This obvious trend is verified by chapter 8 in Erik Qualman’s book, Socialnomics. Within this chapter is a brief section titled: Mobile Me that indicates that people are becoming more and more dependent on their mobile devices at an alarmingly fast rate.
Having used my basic and inexpensive flip phone for the past year, I have found that neither my social life nor my professional life changed much. My friends sometimes give me a hard time because of my “old” technology, but ultimately I am not less happy as a result of having a basic phone. However, I am saving a lot of money every month. One aspect of new mobile devices that I am not comfortable with is the GPS tracking Qualman describes: “This works on the GPS in the phone to locate your friends and tell you exactly where they are,” (216). I have absolutely no desire for anyone to be able to track me. If I want someone to know where I am, I will tell that person where I am going, and I expect that person to trust me. I can see how this type of technology may be helpful in certain emergency situations; however, I would rather retain my privacy.
Sometimes I feel that I may be too anti-technology (despite the fact that I use what technology is necessary for my academic and career success). At the same time, I feel that we, as a society, need to be cautious of a citizenry that is completely dependent on technology. For instance, Qualman mentions that fewer real-time interviews are being conducted by journalists because of technology (215-216). The result of this trend may lead to lost opportunities to truly get at the heart of an important news story. Part of the art of journalism is being able to ask on the spot questions based on interviewee responses and body language—to find out the whole story. Imagine how happy politicians would be if they never had to answer a real-time face to face question.
Maybe Henry David Thoreau had it right in his expirement and book Walden. Such an expirement would be more drastic, and perhaps more meaningful given today’s real vs. virtual worlds.
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