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Why Smart Phones Are Our Dumbest Invention

Monday, October 06, 2014


photo credit: iStock

I upgraded to the I-phone 5S six months ago after having my original I-phone whatever for four years. The old I-phone wouldn’t work anymore because the OS was bogged down and outdated or, as I see it, sabotaged by the guys who made the phone in the first place.

I really do appreciate technology, but I like my privacy the old-fashioned way. I really do think that some of the latest technological advances are Trojan Horses sent here from another civilization to make us humans even more docile and simple than we have already become.

Email, calls, texts, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, music, credit cards, banking, traveling, dating – it’s all done on a smart phone these days. All that data goes to this one place. All that sensitive information streamed through one device. 

And that device is apparently “smart." But how smart is it to use a device that makes you work for free when you should be off work, tracks you like a repeat-offender ankle bracelet, and renders you mentally fried from constant information overload when you employ it.  

A thermos is smart. It keeps whatever is in there cold if you want it to, or hot if you want it to. Plain and simple.

How does it know? Now that’s something that might be seen as a technological advance. 

How Smart is Too Smart? 

But now we have the watch phone, the ring phone, the wrist-band projection phone.

Smarter and smarter, they’ll tell us. 

Take the new iPhone, which bends at no extra charge and sold for $600 to $900 apiece the first day it came out. People who arguably can’t afford it feel compelled to shell out because it’s new, because it’s smart, because they “need” it. 

Here’s the thing. I remember my early years in the game, when I would drive the hour home on my commute in bumper-to-bumper traffic, sweating my butt off on the Beltway outside D.C., with my brick phone at my side. It cost $3.50 per minute and I only used it for business calls that really couldn’t wait.

That’s when I did some real problem solving, sitting in traffic. The space I had allowed me some real thinking, some uninterrupted, creativity time. 

That, unfortunately, is a thing of the past. How the hell are we supposed to, as business creators, solve problems and come up with life-changing innovations if we never get a break from the rest? 

I blame the iPhone and Apple – that’s the company that brought in our 21st Century Trojan Horse. 

There. I said it. I’m sure the van is pulling up to my house as I write this.

“Mr. Taylor, Please come this way. We have someone that wants to meet you.” 

Well, I ain't going! And as soon as I rebuild the rest of my shattered empire I’m going off the grid.

I hope that sometime soon some young hipster decides that he or she is gonna take on the establishment and find some way to make it cool to dump the smart phone and kick it old school. Someone who’ll take us back – or forward – to a time when we only make calls because they are urgent, not because we’re bored in an elevator and don’t know how to smile and strike up a weather conversation.

So cheers to the simple life before smart phones. When you had to plan and remember things, train your brain. When you had to speak with people when waiting for a bus. When you could find out that the old man who rides the elevator to the top floor after it drops you off on yours is the director of the department you have been desperately trying to get into for the past two years. 

So next time you’re standing in an elevator, say something nice to someone about how they look or what they are wearing. Strike up a conversation on the weather or the Ducks game. It’s called small talk. It’s what humans did before they got too smart for their own good.

And it may be the smartest thing you do that day. 

Originally from New York, Scott Taylor moved to Portland in 1996. He's an entrepreneur, Internet millionaire, former MadMan, author, eco-industrialist and disruptive force. 

Banner Photo Credit: iStock 


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