What is it about communication technology that we find so irresistible?
Sales of smartphones are exploding. In 2010 smartphones were 9% of Samsung’s cellphone sales; in 2012 the smartphone share is expected to be 50%. And then there is Apple. Apple sold 72 million iPhones in 2011. First quarter sales alone were 37 million phones in 2012. IPads are on a similar trajectory. Analysts estimate that total iPad sales may reach 100 million this year.
Have you seen Google’s latest project?
I have to admit, that looks pretty cool.
In a Wall Street Journal interview with Liz Gannes, All ThingsD reporter, Liz comments that these Google glasses might free us from the need to carry something around all the time. So awkward. How do we manage?
Sudeshna Sen, in his article Is it really important, what FB, Apple, Google will do next? in The Economic Times, is wary of techno-trends. “What I don’t like about all this gizmo fervour is the pressure it puts on people to keep up with the latest whatchamacallit…Last time I was in India, tech gizmos are what everyone in what is already an almost hysterically status-symbol society, was flashing.”
Why must we have smartphones and tablets (and, someday, Google’s glasses)? That is not a rhetorical question; I am honestly curious. Theoretically, we use smartphones because we need them. Technology that makes our lives easier is always attractive.
But, I’m sorry, the kid at the playground checking his smartphone in between sliding down a slide and climbing a tree (I observed this very phenomenon yesterday), does not need a smartphone. My husband knows of someone who recently arrived in this country, does not have a job, and has little means of support, but has bought a smartphone. I guess information is more necessary than food. Even sadder, a Chinese teenager recently sold his own kidney to buy an iPhone and an iPad.
Clearly, there is more to the wild popularity of smartphones than wise use of technology.
What hunger drives such behavior? Do smartphones satisfy a craving for status? Information? Communication? Entertainment? Importance?
We are living in an age of instant and immediately accessible information. Perhaps we measure our worth in an information age by our participation in the creation and appropriation of knowledge and data. Furthermore, taking notes on a yellow paper tablet on a conference room table full of iPads might cause uncomfortable status anxiety. And we all really do like new toys.
Our fascination with instant communication and access to unlimited information also strikes me as a little heady, like we really can know it all. In fact, Google’s mission is “… to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
If there were a tower of Babel today, this might be it.
Technology is a legitimate expression of human ingenuity and creativity. I believe God approves of our culture-creating efforts, and we should take full advantage of all that communication devices have to offer. However, as has been the case since the beginning of time, when we worship that which we create, we are in trouble.
With all due respect to Google, we will never grasp or gather all the world’s information. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29
I am truly interested in your thoughts about this trend. To what do you attribute the smartphone explosion? What do you think of Google’s prototypical glasses? If you own a smartphone, how do you use it? If you do not possess a smartphone, why not?
In the interest of full disclosure, I do not own a smartphone, because I do not need one. The iPad, however, is tempting.