Planet of Phones

Image result for mobile phones as art

‘Mobile Phones’ by Liu Bolin

Often when I spooned lunch into my Mother’s mouth in her last years, I would ponder how life had changed over her 95 years.

She rode to school on a horse, lived on stoicism during the Great Depression and worked in a munitions factory during World War II.  Mum was 29 when Hiroshima was ‘A’ bombed, read about the first Australian Holden car which cost the equivalent of $733 and welcomed the distraction of the television.

Now, I sometimes ponder how the world has changed since my sister died just 12 years ago.  Dee had a mobile phone and would text messages to me.  However, she didn’t live to see a smartphone.

It has changed so many things we do; from checking evolving weather patterns to tracking people wherever they go.

We carry it constantly, reach for it on waking to slide the alarm off, hold it constantly and incessantly look at its screen to consult the 21st century oracle.

In 2017, more than half the world uses a smartphone; almost two-thirds of the world’s population has a mobile phone; more than half of the world’s web traffic now comes from mobile phones.  We have become addicted to digital technology.

If you Google “uses of smartphones” (as I just have) you will read about better service in restaurants, delivery of mental health services, fitness programs, developing improved diabetes management, and so it goes on.

The transformative power of smartphones comes from their size and connectivity.  We can carry in our pocket a device which can connect us globally, give access to knowledge, and give us a voice via the predominant means of communication this planet has ever known.

In 2017, there are 3.77 billion global internet users equalling 50% of the world’s population; 2.80 billion global social media users equalling 37%.  So much of this is via our phones and these figures just keep on growing.

In January 2007, when Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, held up a slab of plastic, metal and silicon not much bigger than a Turkish Delight chocolate bar, he announced “This will change everything,” and it most definitely has.

An article in The Economist in 2015 described the earth as the “Planet of the phones,” pointing out that their usage is “ubiquitous, addictive and transformative.”  I think that fairly well sums it up.

If only my phone was smart enough to connect with my sister.


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