The Smart Phone Efficiency Myth

I have to say, it has been a great conversation piece.  If there is ever a lull in any conversation, all I have to do is break out my flip phone and the reactions are immediate.  “Is that a flip phone?!”  Yes, that is a flip phone in my hand.  It text, although not very well owing to the annoying assignment of multiple characters to a single digit. It makes phone calls.

That’s it.

Three months ago, I was in the Smart Phone crowd, toting around my IPhone and checking social media every 5 minutes with the rest of the world.  Until one day, I just decided not to.  My arrival at technology rebellion wasn’t as much a function of a look in a mirror, as much as it was seeing my reflection in others.  The Mom at the park with her eyes glued to her cell phone, blissfully unaware of her child being pushed off a slide by an older kid. The driver in front of me that was honked at because he is totally unaware the light turned green 10 seconds ago.  Or the professional associate that never responds to email, but will always be the first to like your Facebook post regardless of the time of day it goes up.


Efficient?  Time saver?  Keep telling yourself that.

According to a recent article in The Guardian, our smart phone usage is bordering more on addiction than need.  “On average, smartphone owners use them for over three hours per day. From worrying reports of smartphone addiction, to the identification of smartphone faux-pas such as “phubbing”, to the news that seven in 10 Americans have used a smartphone behind the wheel and one in 10 people check their phone during sex, the belief that smartphones are harmless is increasingly untenable.”

One could make the argument that the smart phone has been the single biggest disrupter to the work place, and done more damage to employee productivity, that any other instrument ever invented.  For those of us struggling to maintain work/life balance, the damage at home can be even more disturbing.  When talk of smart phone use at home comes up, many people I encounter go on the defense.  I hear from people that when they get home they “put their phones away”.  If that is you, congratulations, your one of the few.  Accenture reported recently that 87% of consumers use more than one device at a time when viewing entertainment at home.  You thought people didn’t spend quality time with their kids because of TV?  Try throwing a cell phone on top of it and all the sudden your spouse just became third in line for your attention.

For many people smart phones have become a part of their professional career.  Texting has replaced phone calls as the preferred method to communicate.  Instant access to email keeps us connected to work at all times.  And any idle time is now filled scrolling through our friend’s selfies on social media.  I guess at some point an electronic dinosaur like me will become obsolete.  But for now, judging on what I see around me, I have to say, “no thanks”.  Even if my flip phone and I are the butt of a joke or two.

Oh, and remember, if your phone actually rings from a real phone call, it’s probably me.

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