Thu | Jun 24, 2021

Those phone attachments

Published:Monday | May 21, 2012 | 12:00 AM

By Robert Lalah

Last week, I sent a text message to someone I knew to be in a room next to the one I was sitting in. Sure, I could have just got up and walked over there to deliver the message in person, but who has the time for that? If I was already standing, well, maybe, but as I pointed out, I was sitting. Clearly, a text message was the way to go.

Technology has changed our lives in so many ways. I read an article recently about the (still-being-fine-tuned) Google Glasses. These seem like regular spectacles, but the person wearing them is actually looking at a mini computer screen. The functions are controlled by subtle hand movements.

Now I'm not sure I'm ready for this. I figure there are already enough people walking around with those tiny cellphone earpieces. They always seem to have the most animated conversations when they're wearing these things and because you can't immediately tell that they're on the phone, it can be a little creepy.

I generally try to get to the opposite end of the room as quickly as possible when I see someone talking to nobody with that much passion. I can't help but think that if people start surfing the Web with their shades, things will only get stranger.

I wonder what's coming next. There are murmurs about the development of a computer chip that can be implanted directly into the brain. It's supposed to be able to take you to the Internet, literally in the blink of an eye. I suppose the thinking is that you can never update your Facebook profile quick enough.

But this really sounds like little more than doomsday-preaching malarkey. You know, the kind of conspiracy theory that anticipates a post-apocalyptic world in which we'll all be governed by omniscient robots and will have to swear allegiance to the computer overlords. Of course, if someone had told me 15 years ago that cars would be able to park themselves and cellphones would speak, I would have said they were crazy.

I wonder.

Information overload

One of the greatest revelations of this technology age, for me, has been just how highly people value their own opinions. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, BlackBerry Messenger and all the rest, people have more outlets than ever to publicise their thoughts on just about anything. With just a few taps on a smartphone, they can tell everyone they're connected with what they're thinking.

Unfortunately, what they think is often not terribly interesting. I mean, must I really be notified every time you stub your toe (accompanied by requisite angry face emoticon), then updated the second the pain goes away (now it's time for the smiley face)?

And I'm no prude. I've been known to enjoy a good ping on a lazy Sunday afternoon, but I scarcely believe exaltations on the previous night's escapades make for enthralling posts. But that's just me. Perhaps it's a demonstration of self-value and should be encouraged.

I suppose it's this function that allows them to publicise their random thoughts that causes people to become so attached to their phones. These days, if someone loses a cellphone, the trauma is so intense that prolonged and targeted therapy may well be in order.

I read a story once of a fellow who stood in line for several hours to acquire the latest version of the iPhone. When he got it he rushed home and began taunting his roommate who had overslept and, therefore, missed his chance to be among the first with the new gadget. The happy phone owner danced around the apartment, even into the bathroom, waving the phone mockingly as his unfortunate roommate watched in dismay.

Then, in a moment filled with biblical resonance, the phone fell from its owner's hands and into the ominous blue water of the commode below. Pride, indeed, goeth before a fall.

The iPhone was ruined and its owner rendered to a state of deep depression for several weeks. The roommate, though, was quite pleased.

This might serve as a good lesson. These gadgets are just that - gadgets. They mean little in the greater scheme of things.

You will forgive me, of course, if I throw all of this preachy talk out the window when someone develops a cellphone that can reheat food or instantly vaporise annoying people. Now, that's a phone I could get attached to.

Robert Lalah is assistant editor - features, and author of Roving with Lalah. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and robert.lalah@gleanerjm.com.