How Smartphones Give Us Superpowers

Gone are the days when letters and phone calls are used as the main channel of communication. Nowadays, texts are the staple of modern conversation and mobile Internet searches are the main source of knowledge. It would seem that smartphones have turned us into superhumans.

According to a global survey by Qualcomm and Time, about 68% of the population keep their phones at their bedside when they sleep. We can see that people already depend so much on their phones that about 75% of Americans feel the need to be “constantly connected” through mobile internet. This could lead to some sense of isolation and loneliness; sort of like a phantom limb syndrome. Some people feel empty without a smartphone in hand.

Irregardless of these negative effects, the use of mobile technology seem to go constantly up. In the United States, majority of phone owners use smartphones. These phones are so powerful that they have become indispensible for its owners. They have become ubiquitous in all businesses and even in our personal lives.

There are so many ways that these mobile gadgets could potentially grant us superpowers. One of these was outlined by Google recently. It is similar to a digital X-ray which gives its user a “Terminator” vision. For example, a person wearing Google’s state-of-the-art glasses may be able to see the deals being offered by a restaurant as he passes by. Some may have prompts to opening or closing doors, or would allow one to pay for a meal with one tap on the phone.

In rural parts of Africa, some schools never had textbooks but with the help of Paul Kim, chief technology officer at Stanford University, these schools are now using smartphones as source of information. In addition to that, researchers like George Whitesides at Harvard University are attempting to use phones as a medium of medical care to remote places in the world where medical personnel are hard to reach. Thus, doctors are now granted the superhuman ability to see patients from far, far away.

Of course, as Paul Kim said, all these new innovations for smartphones won’t always work right away. But sooner or later, smartphones will become an integral part of all aspects of our lives, especially when they become more affordable.

How about you — how indispensible is your smartphone for you? Feel free to share your thoughts on this topic!

Image: Evo Canada News

Human Communication — The Art Lost In Habitual Texting

Phone conversations are fast becoming extinct. With the advent of text messaging, old-fashioned telephone call is starting to take the back seat, especially among the young.

Developmental psychologists who study the effect of texting are worried because aside from the fact that kids nowadays exploit technology too much, their interpersonal skills are also not yet well-founded. Most adults have already established social skills when they were first introduced to text messaging. In contrast to the teens, although adults’ conversational skills may have weakened over the years, it is still pretty much intact.

According to a TIME report, MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle is among the top researchers taking a closer look at the impact of texting on interpersonal development. According to Turkle, face-to-face conversations teach kids the art of thinking, reasoning, and self-reflection — much like having a conversation with themselves.

Take, for example, the texted apology. Turkle says that typing “’I’m sorry’ and hitting send” is a clear example of losing a lot in conversation when we text instead of speak. “A full-scale apology means I know I’ve hurt you, I get to see that in your eyes,” she says. “You get to see that I’m uncomfortable, and with that, the compassion response kicks in. There are many steps and they’re all bypassed when we text.” One of the advantages of texting is it makes the situation less painful — however, the pain is the main point. “The complexity and messiness of human communication gets shortchanged,” Turkle says. “Those things are what lead to better relationships.”

Habitual texters may not only rob their present relationships of something valuable, but they can also hamper their ability to create healthy relationships in the future because they do not exercise the art of seeing through nonverbal visual cues. This is the reason why kids are so easy to lie to — they are functional illiterates in the field of reading facial expressions.

Adults tend to be less afraid of conversations, but they have the tendency to avoid conversation altogether — just because it’s more convenient. Texting a birthday greeting to a friend you dislike means you don’t have to pretend you’re happy for her. Texting to ask what time a party starts means you don’t have to deal with the niceties that a face-to-face conversation usually requires.

Still, text messaging seems to be taking up a permanent place in our society. So, avoiding it is also not recommended. However, throwing in some face time via live video chat together with texting is a good idea. Turkle warns us that too much texting is tantamount to a life of “hiding in plain sight.” And mind you, this could lead to a life lived a alone.

Do you often find yourself texting too much and losing the value of relationships? How important for you is face-to-face conversation? Share your insights with us!

Image: Technology Uninhibited