Wednesday, 9 January 2013

People and smartphones

Brave New World (The Star)
9 January 2013

They say living in the technological age and being wired to the Web is deemed necessary to get ahead in the modern world.


I AM a bona fide techno-phobe. It took me years to buy a handphone. Even now I use a model which can kindly be called quaint.

I like it very much though. It is small and, therefore, jeans-friendly.

It has a nifty little game involving the shooting of small coloured balls which I can play when at a loose end. I can call people and send text messages. What more do I need?

Besides, it is one of those phones that flip open, so I look rather like Captain Kirk requesting Scotty to beam me up every time I use it. Cool.

Obviously, I am not one of those who wax lyrical about how beautiful the iPhone 5 is. How it feels so sensual to the touch and how awesome its numerous apps are. “Oh! look at this app, it tells me where I am. How brilliant is that?”

Yes well, if I need to know where I am, I look up and take in my surroundings.

So, even if I was a young man with a pay cheque of less than RM3,000, I won’t be clogging up the Internet with my request for a smartphone rebate.

Now, it seems very generous of the Government to make this offer of RM200 off a smartphone for all these semi-impoverished young folk; it is just that I wonder what it could possibly be for?

Surely it has nothing to do with the thousands and thousands of new young voters lurking around, so why this largesse?

From what I gather, it is to make our youth connected to the Internet wherever and whenever.

After all, we are living in the technological age and being wired to the Web is deemed necessary to get ahead in the modern world.

Really? I wonder.

Has there been a study about what people actually do with smartphones? Do they keep up to date with the news and do research while waiting for the LRT?

Or are they more likely to be Facebooking or tweeting?

Between expanding one’s mind with the virtually bottomless source of information on the information superhighway and writing mindless drivel full of unfathomable short hands and smiley faces, I bet many would choose the latter.

Don’t get me wrong, if it gives you a thrill to announce to the world that you had eaten a most fantastic beef noodle (with the requisite smiley face), then go for it.

I am sure the world is dying to partake in your dietary habits. What I question is whether taxpayers’ money should go into giving you that pleasure.

Perhaps it is important in the modern working environment that one has a smartphone.

I gather that some companies prefer to use the Internet for communication with their employees rather than old-fashioned text messages.

It just strikes me that if you need to be connected to the Internet for work purposes, shouldn’t your employer get you a company phone?

Like I said, I don’t know if there was any research done as to the value of the type of activities that people get up to on their smartphones, so I could be wrong.

If there was work done though, I would sure like it if someone was kind enough to point it out to me.

But they’ll have to call or send me an SMS though – my phone can’t receive anything else.

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